Abbey Quarter BID and Renewal of Reading Central BID Launched
Abbey Quarter BID and Renewal of Reading Central BID
On 17 January 2019, Reading UK, along with many Reading town centre business and other key stakeholders, launched the business plans for two proposed Business Improvement Districts 2019-24 (BID) for the town centre – the renewal of Reading Central Business Improvement District (which ends on 31 March 2019) and a new Abbey Quarter Business Improvement District.
Following a consultation period in summer 2018, the two separate proposals will be voted on by the businesses located in the two relevant areas of the town centre. The voting period for both BIDs begins on 24 January and concludes on 19 February.
Reading Central BID
Reading Central BID has been in existence since 2006 and is focused on the streets from Jacksons’ Corner to Broad Street Mall and the Oracle to the Station. In this time it has been successfully renewed three times by town centre businesses, and over the past five years has provided £2.2 million extra private investment in the town centre. It funds PCSOs, a Business Warden, Christmas lights and events, summer floral displays, street cleaning, a cultural programme and dedicated services to support Reading’s night time economy as well as recycling collection schemes, among many other services.
Reading UK has an exciting and ambitious proposal for the renewal of the BID 2019-24 aimed at making the town centre more attractive and secure for shoppers, visitors and our own business community, support business growth, invest in Reading’s night time economy, deliver business intelligence and information to the town centre business community.
Adam Jacobs, Chair Reading UK and owner of Jacobs the Jeweller, said: “For the existing BID to continue to deliver the great benefits of the past 12 years, businesses must vote in favour of the proposal. Reading town centre is among the busiest in the south, prospering despite difficult trading times. The BID has been a central force in supporting that economic success. It is vital that we continue to invest in services that will maintain this pre-eminent position.”
Abbey Quarter BID
Reading UK is proposing a new BID for the area surrounding Reading Abbey, which includes many new office buildings. This is an area which has developed fast in recent years and has the potential to become a world-class business location and a great place in which to live and work. Following the consultation with businesses in the area, Reading UK believes there is a clear need for a BID to help deliver improvements in areas such as public realm, place marketing, regeneration of the Kennet, safer and cleaner public spaces and a commercial requirement to help businesses attract and retain the very best talent.
The proposed work streams for a new Abbey Quarter BID would revolve around making the area cleaner and greener, safer, well branded and well connected. Examples of activity it would fund include: security/warden service, events programme to animate public spaces, health and wellbeing initiatives for staff who work in the area, a staff benefits scheme, lighting schemes and creative use of the waterways.
Bill Gornall King, Partner, Boyes Turner and President Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: “With the re-opening of our historic Reading Abbey and plans being discussed to re-vitalise Reading Prison, now is a unique opportunity for all of us in the ‘Abbey Quarter’ to come together, to build on these positives and to position ourselves as one of the pre-eminent business locations in the south. I urge colleagues in this historic area to engage with the proposal and explore the possibilities the proposed ‘Abbey Quarter’ Commercial District can offer to all of our businesses, our staff and visitors.”
What Is A BID Area
A BID is an area which has a mandate to create extra services in addition to those already provided by the public authorities to maximise the experience for businesses, shoppers and workers. The decision to create and continue a BID is enabled through a vote of all eligible businesses in the BID area. If carried, they contribute a small levy on their business rates (typically around 1%) to deliver the plan of extra services. There are over 300 business improvement districts across the UK including the current Reading Central BID which 530 town centre businesses have voted to maintain on three occasions since 2006.
A postal ballot of business ratepayers in the two BID areas, based on the list of non-domestic ratepayers, will take place between 24 January and 21 February 2019. Each vote is separate to the other. A majority is required in each area for that particular BID to go ahead. If approved, the new BIDs would commence on 1 April 2019 and will operate for five years.
Both BIDs were launched by Reading UK, which provides the operational management for the current BID, at the Novotel Hotel in Friar Street on 17 January. More information on the two BID proposals can be found at www.readingbid.co.uk and www.abbeyquarter.co.uk.