THE much-anticipated launch of an “ambitious and exciting” plan to give Bradford city centre a £2.5 million boost will take place next week.
Business owners are being urged to attend the unveiling of the five-year strategy, to improve the heart of the city and help lift the fortunes of traders and service providers, which is being described as a “defining moment” for the proposed Business Improvement District.
“More than a year’s hard work and planning has gone into pulling together the Business Plan for the city centre BID,” said Ian Ward, chairman of the BID Development Group.
“It’s a defining moment for the project because this is when we show businesses how we expect to spend the millions of pounds they will invest in the city centre over the next five years.”
More than 620 businesses and organisations in a defined area will be asked to vote on whether or not the BID project should go ahead in a ballot which starts in mid-September.
If a majority of those who take part vote in favour – and if, between them, they represent more than half of the total rateable value of the area’s properties – the BID will be formally established before the end of 2018 and will operate until December 2023.
In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, all businesses in the area (except those below a threshold) will pay a small percentage levy on their business rates, raising more than £2.5 million over the BID term.
Some businesses outside the levy area have already offered to make substantial extra contributions to help ensure the BID is a success if it goes ahead.
The launch of the BID Business Plan takes place on Wednesday, June 27, at the Pictureville Cinema, in the National Science+ Media Museum. The event starts at 6pm and the organisers are promising one or two “surprises.”
“As well as setting out all the key elements of the improvement strategy, we want to give businesses just a little flavour of what the BID could achieve,” said Mr Ward.
The key priorities and projects have been identified following a feasibility study and survey at the end of 2017, in which 70 per cent of the more than 200 businesses who responded said they thought the BID was a good idea.
Following extensive consultation, the Business Plan was organised into four key “pillars” – Safe, Clean, Alive and Promoted – which will drive the improvement strategy.
Details of the projects, to improve the safety, cleanliness, vitality and marketing of Bradford’s retail heart, will be revealed at the launch. Projects include a wide range of schemes from hot-washing the streets to smartening up empty shops, from helping reduce anti-social behaviour to additional city centre lighting schemes, from creating new festivals to bringing in special street markets, from marketing the city nationally to lobbying government for more investment.
Mr Ward said: “This is an ambitious plan to boost business and breathe new life into the city centre and it’s really important that all those affected come and see for themselves exactly what they are being asked to invest in.
“Bradford city centre needs the BID. Projects like this have taken root and achieved great things in more than 300 towns and cities across the UK. Now it’s Bradford’s turn – but it will only happen if businesses vote for it.”