Businesses in Rochdale have voted in favour of plans to set up a Business Improvement District (BID), securing a significant £1.5million to be spent on improving the area.
The positive result follows 18 months of planning, in-depth interviews, surveys and workshops and a month-long ballot in which hundreds of businesses in the town centre, retail parks and the riverside leisure area were asked to vote on the proposals.
76% of votes cast voted in favour of the BID by total number of businesses, and 88% of votes cast voted in favour of the BID by Rateable Value. There was a 52.5% turnout.
As a result of the yes vote the town centre’s new Business Improvement District will come into effect on 1st April 2019. Businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or above will pay an annual levy of 1.75% of their Business Rates, creating a collective fund of more than £1.5million to spend over the next five years.
The plans were spear-headed and driven by a steering group of business representatives from across the town.
Lorenzo OReilly, Centre Manager of the Exchange Shopping Centre and Chairman of the Rochdale BID Development Steering Group, said: “This is superb news for Rochdale and huge congratulations must go to all the businesses which rallied and joined forces to ensure we secured today’s yes vote. Our new BID will be led and driven by the businesses themselves and this funding and commitment of collaboration will enable us to build on the town centre’s unique strengths and assets.
“Thanks must also go to all those businesses who engaged in the process by sharing their ideas and opinions on how we can work together to improve the area and who, ultimately, voted in favour of the plans.
“The BID’s business plan, which businesses were being asked to vote on, has been designed to begin addressing the issues which came up during the lengthy consultations with many of the businesses in the BID area, from the small independent businesses to large national businesses.
“The money will now be spent delivering those ambitions with the aim of making Rochdale a better and more successful place to shop, explore and do business.”
The BID Rochdale vision is ‘To create a safe, vibrant and attractive town centre that has a sense of identity, which is family orientated and welcoming to all’ and its four key priority areas: promotion and animation of the town centre, safety, security and accessibility, the way the town looks and having a great business, leisure and cultural offering.
Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We’re proud to have backed the bid. Businesses are the backbone of our town centre and have a critical role to play in its redevelopment. This new BID will take Rochdale further forward as its ongoing transformation continues.”
The first project area in the plan is about creating a vibrant town centre which has a strong sense of identity and is perceived positively by local residents and nationally. It includes coordinating promotion of the town, creating more events and things to do and generating campaigns to profile the town centre businesses.
The second project is all about making the place safer and more accessible. This includes working closely with the Police and other agencies to deal with anti-social behaviour. It will also introduce an initiative which has proved popular in other places with uniformed Rangers or Ambassadors to help people in the town and make their experience more enjoyable.
The third project area is to help make the town centre even more attractive by working with landlords to tidy up some of the derelict buildings, work with the Council on improving the Christmas lights and generally improving the attractiveness of the town centre.
The last but one of the most important project areas to address, according to businesses in the town centre, is the business offer. The aim is to work with landlords, the Council and Rochdale Development Agency to build upon the improved offer which will come from the new Riverside Development and create a really exciting and unique offer for retail and leisure and attract more office-based businesses into the town centre.
On behalf of the BID steering group Lorenzo O’Reilly thanked the BID proposer Rochdale Town Centre Management, and Rochdale Council which funded the feasibility and development stages of the journey.
A company will now be formed to deliver the objectives of the BID over the next five years. For more information please visit www.rochdalebid.co.uk.