A feasibility steering group made up of representatives from companies including Land Securities, Town Centre Securities and Hammerson, is consulting businesses in Leeds city centre to find out whether there is enough support to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) company.
The company would give organisations in the area a direct say in how the city centre is managed and promoted.
There are over 160 BIDs in the UK, including in Hull and Skipton, where levies are collected through the business rate which pay for additional services, over and above those provided by the public sector.
The funds collected through the levy give local organisations the power to raise funds locally to be spent locally, with the aim of improving their own business environment.
Mark Goldstone, chairman of the Leeds BID Feasibility Study Steering Board, and head of business representation and policy at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The opening of First Direct Arena and Trinity Leeds have raised the bar in terms of city offer and with more in the pipeline with the long-awaited Victoria Gate and John Lewis development a Business Improvement District has the potential to give businesses in the city centre greater say in how they would like to see the city presented to the outside world.”
A series of consultation workshops for business networks and organisations will be held in January as Leeds moves on to the next stage of the BID process. The first workshop will take place Tuesday, January 14 at Land Securities offices at City Exchange on Albion Street in Leeds. Two further workshops will take place on Thursday, January 23.
Mr Goldstone added: “The feasibility study is being carried out by Ashmore Consulting to help us understand more about how a BID could work for the benefit of Leeds; the level of potential additional funding it would generate for new services, enhanced marketing, promotions and events and the geographical area that it would operate within.”
The feasibility study will be concluded in the early part of 2014 and if businesses are supportive of a Leeds BID a full business plan will be developed.
City centre business rate payers would then take part in a ballot to vote on whether they were in favour of the BID.
Gerald Jennings, a member of the steering group and portfolio director for the north of England at Land Securities, said: “Some people might think Leeds is already a successful city so why does it need a BID? But we are looking at how BIDs have helped other cities to become more successful.
“We can’t afford to sit on our laurels and think we have done enough because our competitors will always up their game.”
In Hull, the levy raises approximately £480,000 per annum.
Voluntary contributions, grants, events revenue and other funding bring in additional income. In the first five-year term, HullBID generated an additional £1.7m in funding and support.
Meanwhile, last week, businesses in Sheffield voted in favour of setting up a BID to raise funds to install flood defences in the Lower Don Valley.
The £8.1m project was reliant on businesses agreeing to contribute £1.4m.
A spokesman from York City Council said it was currently exploring its options with regard to a potential BID.
Businesses interested in attending one of the Leeds BID workshops can contact Katy Raife at Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce on 0113 247 000 or email [email protected], indicating the workshop they would like to attend.
Details can be found at www.leedsbid.com.
The successful bids
More than 160 areas in the UK have voted in favour of a BID, with many more operating around the world.
Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods with 77 bids representing 34,000 businesses with a predominance of retail.
There are seven BIDS in the three-mile stretch from the waterfront to the top of the city shopping area. Collectively, 160 events bring in 7.8m people to the city every year.
London West End is the leading partner in the biggest regeneration programme of London’s West End in its history.
Meanwhile, the Manchester BID was instrumental in the October 2013 Vogue Fashion event, which saw a 100 per cent increase in retail footfall.