Commercial property in Plymouth is about to have a boost like never before with an estimated investment of up to £6.2m being proposed for a Waterfront Business Improvement District (BID) to be created to regenerate Plymouth’s commercial property in the region.
A Business Improvement District is an area that has been defined in consultation with local businesses and councils and designated for improvements whereby companies in the commercial property within the district agree to pay an additional tax to help fund the work. Improvements may come in the form of new services, such as heightened security and additional street cleaning, or they could mean regenerating, renovating or constructing commercial property and aesthetic improvements to the region as well as enhancing the marketing of the Business Improvement District as a whole.
Business Improvement Districts have been around since the early 1970s and have been established in countries the world over including the United States, South Africa, New Zealand and Germany as well as the United Kingdom, of course, where the first ones were successfully set up in 2006.
The creation of a Business Improvement District has three defined stages:
In Plymouth a group of commercial property tenants have been working with Plymouth City Council for the last twelve months to determine the plan of action for this new Waterfront Business Improvement District. It has been a long process, but then this sort of thing always is when so many organisations, people and local authority employees have to agree on a shared course of action.
Plymouth City Council has been in consultation with local commercial property tenants over the last month to establish the level of support that exists for the Business Improvement District, and in early 2012 there will be a vote on whether to go ahead with it or not. The levy that commercial property tenants within the proposed district will need to pay over and above their business rates is expected to be an average of £350 each year for the following five years. The aim is to raise around £1m to supplement the grants and Plymouth City Council contributions that will make up most of the rest of the estimated £6.2m it will take to improve the business district.
Commercial property tenants in and around the proposed Plymouth Waterfront Business Improvement District will be able to see the final business plan for the region when it’s published next month. And the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership has indicated that the Business Improvement District could “come into operation” as early as April 2012.
Not everyone is always pleased by the development of a Business Improvement District on their doorstep. There were certainly issues when the Plymouth city centre Business Improvement District was set up in 2005 when those outside the district complained that they were being left out; but for those commercial property tenants within the district the improvements to the Plymouth waterfront should be very positive indeed.