Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) were set up to improve declining areas as a public-private partnership.
The UK’s 140 have contributed £300m to regeneration and management for towns and cities.
The NE1 Business Improvement District Company oversees Newcastle’s, set up five years ago and due to come up for renewal in October. The region’s other BID is in Durham city centre, established in December with 86% of businesses in favour of a 1.5% levy on rates that will produce £1.5m over five years.
The (Mary) Portas Review in late 2011 recommended “empowering successful BIDs to take more responsibility and powers”.
Grant Shapps, minister for cities, responded by providing £500,000 seed funding to help BIDs access loans for set-up costs and to explore the feasibility of property owner BIDs under the power of the Business Rates Supplement Act 2009.
The Act gives power to local authorities to impose a business rate supplement for expenditure on a project that the authority is satisfied will promote economic development. A proposed BID is subject to a ballot of non-domestic ratepayers, and lasts five years, thus the BID is totally accountable to the local business community.
The big debate has always been that most BID ratepayers are tenants. However, property owners also benefit from improvements. So why are they are not involved?
The Government has now grasped the nettle and is consulting on this issue until September 17.
I have long been an advocate that to create change, that the setting should be where people can live, relax, shop and work – instead of just buildings.
The economic benefits depend on those who create jobs and wealth in a particular area and are enjoyed by all. For this to be sustainable, the process needs to fair and equitable. I’m certain that property owners grasp the opportunity when it comes.
:: Kevan Carrick is a partner at JK Property Consultants LLP, the policy spokesman for RICS North East, and member of G9 and NELEP’s Investment Fund Panel