City centre businesses to vote on a business improvement district for Leeds

Over 1,000 businesses and organisations in Leeds city centre are being balloted on the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) which, if given the go ahead, will be instrumental in driving the city centre forward to compete on a global scale and provide a coordinating voice to unite businesses and communities in the city centre.  It would also generate up to £10m to invest in the city over the next five years.

A Business Improvement District is a business-led partnership which enables coordinated investment in the management and marketing of a commercial area. BID4Leeds is the not-for- profit company set up to establish and run the Leeds BID.

A copy of the business plan outlining what the Leeds BID would do, followed by ballot papers will be sent to all organisations in the area that would be covered by the BID. Ballot papers should arrive by 29th January so that businesses can vote on whether they want it to be created.  Sectors it would cover include retail, leisure, cultural, office and the public sector.

Organisations will have from the 29th January to 26th February to respond and the results of the ballot will be announced on 27th February 2015.

A feasibility study has already been carried out and this was followed by a period of consultation with the businesses that would potentially fall inside the area covered by the Leeds BID. Their feedback has already enabled BID4Leeds to establish a set of key priorities for it to focus on.

These include aiming for higher standards in place shaping and investment in the city; raising the profile of the city with consumers in the immediate and wider geographic area to increase footfall, dwell time and spend along with coordinated marketing and event activities to ensure greater impact and visibility. As well as adding value to businesses through coordination, cost savings and profile.

A business plan which is available from 12 January has been produced outlining how this would be achieved with the activities being funded by a 1.25% levy charged to those businesses in the area covered by the BID that have a rateable value of over £60,000 and which would benefit from its initiatives.

If voted into place, the BID would come into existence on 1 April 2015 and would operate for a period of five years before being presented to businesses once again for potential renewal.

“Leeds is consistently ranked as one of the top UK shopping destinations, is the most important legal centre outside London and is also one of the most prominent financial areas in the country. With a broad cultural heritage, Leeds is the only city outside London to have its own repertory theatre, as well as being home to Opera North, Northern Dance and numerous other museums and galleries.,” saidJohn Bywater, chairman of BID4Leeds.  “It is however important that we don’t rest on our laurels.   Other towns and cities are investing in themselves and looking ahead.  There is also now greater competition to the traditional high street model, heightened customer and client expectations and increased pressure on public sector resources. I am confident that Leeds can do better and the Leeds BID has an important part to play in this. I would urge local businesses to vote yes.”

Leeds City Council executive member for transport and the economyCouncillor Richard Lewissaid; “Creating a Business Improvement District will create a step change in the ability of Leeds to improve and promote its city centre as a leading European business location, a top UK retail destination, and a source of new jobs and economic growth. Private sector led and public sector backed, Leeds City Council has given full support to the BID.“

“The benefits could be considerable as seen in other cities across the country and Leeds is one of the few major centres in the UK without a BID, so I would encourage all the businesses and landowners to take part in the vote as we look to make Leeds city centre an even greater place to be.”

Business Improvement Districts have proved to be hugely successful in numerous other locations around the UK and Ireland, with over 190 BIDs now in existence including in the majority of major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Newcastle. Proven to be the most sustainable model of place management, these BIDs invest in excess of almost £200 million in their areas annually.