Stockport town centre could be the next place to set up a business improvement district, which raises cash from occupiers to spend on communal initiatives.
The Vision Stockport group is aiming to secure a £2m cash injection, as it revealed plans for the BID and launched a survey as the start of a consultation period.
The initiative aims to create a more vibrant, attractive and affluent town centre, which it is hoped will achieve an increase in footfall and visitor spend.
The community interest company behind the town’s BID, Vision Stockport, is proposing a five-year term for the initiative, which would potentially raise £400,000 annually.
Vision Stockport is proposing that the additional funding for Stockport town centre is used to put on high quality family events, improve car parking, make safer pedestrian routes to and from public transport hubs, enhance the general appearance of the town centre and make the town a business and tourist destination through positive marketing and PR.
There are currently over 200 BIDs around the UK, with successful schemes currently operating in Chester, Kendal and Manchester in the North West, delivering visible and tangible improvements in the BID area and offering participants savings through group buying of electricity, recycling and waste management.
BIDs raise funds by charging a levy on the rateable value of a property in the BID area, which in the case of Stockport would be just 1%. The cost to an average independent retailer would be £250 per year, rising to £1,500 per year for larger businesses, for example Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Argos and Robinsons.
As the BID is an inclusive project for all businesses, Vision Stockport has proposed that small, independent businesses in properties with rateable values of less than £6,000 should be exempt from paying the levy, in order to avoid putting off new businesses from setting up in the Town Centre.
The first stage of a BID is the consultation process, so a survey has been set up on the Stockport BID website at www.stockportbid.com/Feedback.aspx to canvas views on how the BID should work, to pinpoint projects in need of BID funding, and whether people would generally support a BID in Stockport.
Following the consultations, Vision Stockport is aiming to produce and distribute a BID Proposal and Business Plan, which incorporates all of the comments and feedback received in the surveys. The proposal will then be put to a democratic vote in early 2016. If all is agreed, the BID should be live by September 2016.
Tony Jones, managing director of Orbit Developments, and lead member of the Stockport BID team, said: “BIDs have proved to be a highly successful method of funding improvements to town and city centres across the UK. The process of putting the BID to ballot and encouraging feedback makes businesses and retailers work and communicate with each other in order to create a business plan which works for the whole town.
“Implementing a BID in Stockport will enable us to make the area a more desirable destination for businesses, visitors and residents, and I’m sure it would also prove to be the catalyst for further investment in the town centre.
“The BID provides an opportunity for the Town to work together collaboratively and deliver a vibrant, safe and sustainable Town Centre, which is something that will benefit all.”
- Information on the Stockport BID is available at http://www.stockportbid.com