25 Feb Page Hardy Harris involved in Bracknell’s BID to improve Bracknell
A series of workshops starts on Thursday (February 27) in an effort to create Bracknell’s BID (first business improvement district).
All 260 businesses on the Southern and Western industrial areas are being contacted ahead of a ballot which will be held in October. If businesses vote in favour, the BID will start immediately. A levy on business rates will then pay for the improvements businesses want.
Principle concerns revealed so far by a survey and feasibility study by Bracknell Investment Group (BIG), the 12-strong alliance of stakeholder organisations driving the BID, have been around broadband, parking and transport, and safety and security and the workshops address each.
What is a BID?
A BID is a defined geographical area within which local individual rate-paying businesses put forward ideas to improve and transform their area. These ideas are then voted on by all the BID members. BID funds are ring-fenced to provide the improvements agreed through the BID voting process. This ensures a sustainable and democratic way of creating a development plan for the area which can help transform the district into a better place for business and residents.
BIG’s findings are now being followed up by members of a team of ‘BID champions’ from Waitrose, Nick Hardy and Sophie Holmes from Page Hardy Harris, Fujitsu and Bracknell Forest Council who are visiting firms on both estates for further discussions. Our photos shows five of the team of eight.
The results of all the work will eventually form Bracknell’s BID business plan.
The Bracknell BID would be one of only a handful of its kind in the UK. More than 300 operate but around 80 per cent are retail focused. Others cover areas such as coastal and commercial centres. Only a fraction cover industrial estates.
Maria Sabey, head of property at Fujitsu and chair of BIG, said by sharing facilities such as shuttle buses and parking spaces, savings can be made and employees can benefit. She said “Ultimately, it’s about what we can do to make Bracknell a better place to do business.”
She said that competitors are working together where they have similar objectives within Bracknell including her own discussions with Dell. Both firms share an interest in improving the area to attract talent. Some of the concerns revealed by occupiers were unexpected, including a desire for better signage, which Mrs Sabey said can be addressed at little cost. But she said the work had to be thorough to ensure occupiers got the most benefit.
Nick Hardy, director at Page Hardy Harris, one of the businesses which forms BIG, said a shared parking system would make buildings with low parking ratios more attractive to occupiers.
He said landlords of vacant buildings could let their unused car parks and, in some cases, shuttle buses could operate between car parks and workplaces. He believes a licensed system of allocating spaces could even make money for the BID. What’s been lacking in the past, he said, was a collaborative approach.
He added: “The BID is an opportunity for businesses to set their own agenda for how they want to work to keep improving the environment.”
Contributor: Susie Page
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