Across the UK, business improvement districts (BIDs) have made a substantial impact in changing the high street environment for the better.
Over the past 10 years, England’s northernmost BID, Newcastle NE1, has played a significant role in the regeneration of the historic city, supporting economic growth and strengthening the community.
Newcastle has undergone a major transformation since it elected a BID, and part of this can be directly attributed to the development of a combined approach to how visitors are attracted to the city. This has been achieved through strong leadership and partnership between the local authority, business and community interests.
All of NE1’s initiatives are developed with the full support of local businesses, because they know how important it is to ensure Newcastle remains a top visitor destination.
One of the projects, ‘Alive After Five’, which includes extended retail opening times and free parking in the evening, has seen 13.8m additional visitors after 5pm, who have spent more than £800m.
Providing improved convenience and value for visitors by making parking free and keeping shops open longer has made the city a more welcoming and vibrant experience all year round.
Overall, footfall in the city is up approximately 20% since 2010, with the central district attracting in the region of 40m shoppers a year, pushing retail spend to in excess of £1bn.
As a direct result of that, Newcastle is one of few places in the UK to have attracted numerous new retail outlets. Creating a thriving economy and driving down unemployment.
More people, spending more time in the city isn’t just great for shops – pubs, restaurants, hotels and all of the other businesses have also benefited.
A number of nationally owned pub businesses were persuaded to vote yes in our last re-election year, even though their central policy was to vote no in BID votes. This was no doubt because of NE1’s close working relationship with local pub, bar and nightclub managers.
This success has come from the collaborative nature of NE1’s work with local businesses of all shapes and sizes, as the need to provide for every visitor at all times is vital to create a thriving city centre that delivers the exceptional experience that people now demand and expect.
NE1 has big ambitions for the future, it is already heavily involved in a number of projects, including significant expansion of the city centre core. Part of this will be the process of linking to development areas outside the central business district, further expanding the benefits of having a BID that works for everyone.