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Bradford to Gain a Business Improvement District

June 4, 2018Article by Paul Avery

The Bradford business community has lately become the source of an infectious buzz. Local companies and entrepreneurs are actively working toward the creation of a Business Improvement District. It is a prime example of the mutually-beneficial relationship between economic activity and public space improvements.

“Bringing a new shine to the city centre”

A Business Improvement District is a bottom-up initiative led by local businesses, who all contribute funds to shared projects for the common good. The scope of the projects is wide and differs greatly between different districts, but they usually extend beyond the business sphere to the benefit of all who inhabit or use the area.

The projects proposed by the Bradford BID Development Board all aim to ensure that “the city is an attractive and welcoming place for residents, workers, and visitors alike”. More specifically, that involves a proactive street cleansing regime, hot-washing of streets, and smartening up vacant units, as well as awareness and improvement campaigns and events.

Such initiatives will supplement the existing work of the council – delivering an extra boost rather than replacing services. City centre manager Jonny Noble describes this category of activities as “over and above” current service provision. They are designed to give Bradford a competitive edge and create the best, lasting impression possible on visitors.

The total estimated fund of £2.5m should go a long way to achieving these goals as well as other less direct benefits.

Positive feedback

The concept of a BID stems from the idea that making a city a more pleasant living and working environment creates a positive feedback loop: its activities attract investment and tourism, create more business and jobs, and therefore more funding for further improvements.

In Bradford, it is a helpful boost to the latest economic growth strategy, which aims to raise the total value of the economy from £10bn to £14bn, and get 48,000 more people qualified above NVQ level-3 by 2030.

Bradford generates 4% of national economic output and employs 1.3m people, but there is slack in the economy and the employment rate. This can be tackled by ensuring the young, fast-growing population receives appropriate training to fill the vacancies of growing companies, and making sure that Bradford remains an attractive place for its brightest minds to lay down roots.

It is encouraging to see that stakeholders at the local and national level are working to help Bradford reach its potential: in addition to the planned BID, the government recently designated Bradford as an Opportunity Area for social mobility, and invested £11m for the purpose.

The economy should benefit from all this attention to strategy and long-term goals. But more fundamentally, the creation of a Business Improvement District is also a sign of pride, of local people and organisations taking ownership of the spaces they occupy, and of optimism for the future of a place.

(Sources: Business Up North, Invest in Bradford, Telegraph and Argus)


Paul Avery

Paul joined us in 2016 to lead our in-house research efforts, producing reports and guidance for clients as well as the strategic market analysis behind our new project launches. His background is in sustainability in the construction sector, and he is currently being trained in property valuation to further bulk up his investment creds.
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