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Plan to bring business improvement district to Christchurch town centre



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TRADERS in Christchurch are set to vote on plans to bring in a business levy to help pay for town centre improvements to boost the local economy.

If the postal ballot is successful, around 270 businesses would have to contribute to the scheme – with costs depending on their size and location.

A group of business owners from the town wants to launch a Christchurch Business Improvement District (BID) which would see nearly £650,000 spent in five years on projects to attract footfall and new enterprise.

Around 270 businesses would have to contribute to the scheme (picture: Steve West)
Around 270 businesses would have to contribute to the scheme (picture: Steve West)

This would include town centre Wi-Fi, parking discounts, seasonal events and a raft of marketing and aesthetic measures.

Approval is required from BCP Council’s ruling cabinet when it meets on 1st September before the vote can go ahead.

BIDs are business-led and funded bodies formed to improve commercial areas. Most are governed by a board comprising local business bosses, and promote the chance for firms to decide and direct what they want for the area.

There are more than 300 BIDs across the UK, and a Christchurch BID would be BCP Council’s fourth, in addition to Bournemouth, Bournemouth Coastal, and Poole.

Now Christchurch businesses within the proposed 29-street area of the BID will be asked to vote on whether to support the plan. If successful, each firm would be subject to a rateable-value levy based on its size and location.

There are 29 streets in the proposed boundary
There are 29 streets in the proposed boundary

The Christchurch BID development board, which is pushing the proposal, said more than 60% of businesses would pay less than £1 a day for the BID.

Lucy Filer, chair of the Christchurch BID development board, said its aim was to “find the way for Christchurch town centre to thrive”.

“The past 18 months have arguably presented some of the biggest challenges that our town centre businesses have ever faced and it is therefore considered to be more critical then ever for us all to pull together, pool our resources, help each other and go on to achieve great things.

“With such strong foundations to build on, the Christchurch BID can play a vital role in facing the challenges and taking the town forward on the next step in its story.

“The aim is clear – make Christchurch town centre the best place to shop, to eat, to walk and to spend well-earned quality time.”

The board has detailed four projects – based on local feedback – comprising a host of improvements to transform the town over the next five years, costing a total of £647,500.

These include:

  • Introducing improved town centre Wi-Fi
  • New floral and landscaping features
  • Heritage trails
  • Improved traffic flow
  • Parking discounts and additional spaces
  • New events and street entertainment
  • Improved cleaning
  • Promotions, branding and campaigns
  • Business crime reduction

If approved, ballots will be sent out on 2nd September, with a deadline of 30th September. The result will be announced on 1st October.

A report to the BCP Council cabinet said the scheme’s adoption would “improve the vitality and viability of the town centre”.

For more information visit www.christchurchbid.co.uk



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