Businesses vote through multi-million pound investment plan for Victoria Westminster
Local businesses have voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing London’s 60th Business Improvement District (BID) to deliver ambitious improvements in the area that includes Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey.
83% of businesses voted ‘yes’ at the ballot (97% by rateable value) with a 57% turnout, firmly endorsing the £5.6 million investment plan, aimed at ensuring the area reaches its full economic and cultural potential.
The BID will go ‘live’ in October of this year and the BID team will work with partners to enhance the area’s iconic status as London’s seat of democracy and tourist hot spot and develop the experience of working, living, doing business and visiting the area.
The BID was proposed and spearheaded by the Victoria Westminster Partnership – a collective of businesses committed to working together to improve the local area – and the successful ballot result is further endorsement of the growing role that BIDs are playing in London’s evolution.
While arguably one of the most iconic parts of central London, home to world class cultural destinations, hospitality venues and a thriving mix of businesses, and of course the location of the seat of Government, Victoria Westminster is not without its challenges. The area suffers from pockets of poor public realm, poor pedestrian connectivity and inadequate signage.
With continuing uncertainty around Brexit, there is also a growing acknowledgement that all areas in the capital are raising their game, no matter how well known or iconic. The drive to compete for the best talent, a rightful share of the tourist market and entice domestic visitors has never been more important. The newly created BID will be a powerful business alliance, allowing private businesses to coalesce around shared social and economic regeneration goals.
Ruth Duston OBE OC, Executive Director of the Victoria Westminster Partnership said:
“BIDs in the capital, not least the neighbouring Victoria BID which is now in its second term, are a powerful and strategic force for good. From transformational public realm projects, to supporting small businesses and making areas safer, cleaner and more pleasant places to visit or work, BIDs have a proven track record for driving change and innovation. This positive result means that the opportunity now for Victoria Westminster is significant, giving the private sector a real say in the future evolution of this fantastic location.”
The BID’s work will focus on priority areas that the business community identified through a consultation at the beginning of the year. Five priorities themes were identified, which are:
- Public Realm
- Clean & Green
- Destination Victoria Westminster
- Safe & Secure
- Sustainable Prosperity
Programmes and projects will be delivered under each of these headings over an initial 4.5 year term. Priority projects include the development of a public realm strategy, improved signage, additional street cleansing, and more marketing and promotion of the area’s historic and cultural venues.
The Victoria Westminster BID will operate as a new BID in its own right but will benefit from working in partnership with the well established Victoria BID. The management team will work with the current team in place at the Victoria BID with an extended street team and and administrative team to support the new BID’s activities.
Andrew Smith, Chairman of the Victoria Westminster BID and partner at Bircham Dyson Bell.
“I am delighted with such a positive result for a new Business Improvement District for the Victoria Westminster area. These are exciting times and I’m looking forward to working with the team to deliver our ambitious plans. Building on the experience and success of our ‘sister’ BID in Victoria, I am delighted that more businesses in the area will enjoy the benefits of being part of a BID community – working collectively to make this area as good as it possibly can be.”
There are now 60 BIDs operating in central London, with over 10 in Westminster alone. Not only providing important operational functions such as cleaning and greening, BIDs are increasingly seen as strategic partners to the public sector, providing vital ‘added value’ in districts across the capital and working hand in hand with the public sector bodies such as TfL, local councils and the GLA. Importantly, they give a voice to business communities and are able to lobby on big issues impacting on businesses.
Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business said:
“Business Improvement Districts are enhancing commercial as well as industrial areas all over our city. It’s great to see businesses working together like this, and in many places where BIDS are established, they have driven economic development and local improvements for businesses, residents and visitors alike. I have no doubt that the area will see real benefits as a result of this initiative.”