Council endorses plans for BID renewal and a new Abbey Quarter Commercial District

At its Policy Committee meeting on 26 November, Reading Borough Council endorsed Reading UK’s proposals for the renewal of Reading Business Improvement District (BID), the town centre retail focused BID, along with proposals for setting up a new separate Commercial BID across the Abbey Quarter in the town centre.

BID Renewal launch BID CommitteeReading’s town centre Business Improvement District was established in 2006 following a vote among town centre businesses. It is funded by a levy on business rates of the businesses within its area. During the current BID period (2014-19), almost £2.5 million of additional funding has been raised to improve the attractiveness of the town centre and support its continued economic success. This includes securing ‘Purple Flag’ accreditation for Reading’s night time economy; combating shoplifting; increasing businesses recycling; providing improved footfall information to businesses; establishing street food markets and a programme of arts and culture in the town centre; providing an additional 2,600 floral displays and Reading’s Christmas lights display.

For the period 2019-24, Reading UK is putting forward two proposals covering the whole of the town centre and the Abbey Quarter which will yield a collective BID levy of £5m over five years.

The retail town centre BID 2019-2024 will include a focus on increasing footfall; making the town centre more secure; investing in a safe night time economy; combatting shoplifting and anti-social behaviour; making the town centre more attractive; increasing levels of recycling; supporting more cultural activity. 

Options proposed for a new Commercial BID in the Abbey Quarter include promotion and marketing of the Abbey Quarter as a high value business location to maintain high levels of occupancy, attract new occupiers of empty grade A offices and retain and attract staff; infrastructure investment; security initiatives; an events programme; a programme of work / life balance activities to support the well-being and active engagement of employees.

Nigel Horton Baker, Executive Director of Reading UK said: “The support of the Council is integral to achieving the BID renewal. The town centre BID has delivered huge benefits over the past 10 years and now, with the recent opening of the Abbey and its proximity to a large number of global companies, we have a great opportunity for further enhancements and marketing of the town centre.”

Councillor Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “The benefits of the BID to the town centre, businesses and Reading’s economy since it began back in 2006 have been enormous. There is now a huge opportunity to build on that success by retaining the retail BID and creating a new BID which will play a big part in promoting the Abbey Quarter as a major centre for both business and culture.”

The Policy Committee also approved the Council voting in favour of both the Retail and Commercial BID proposals for the period 2019 – 24 in the forthcoming ballot.

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