Echo article on the Culture Mile BID – and a BID website

Below is my article for the EC1 Echo October/November edition. Download here

Update: since the Echo printed, consultants Primera have published a Culture Mile BID website, confirming the idea of a community forum. See end note.

Culture Mile may become a BID

Businesses in the north west of the City will contribute cash to projects for greening, easier walking and cycling, and reduction in air pollution, under plans to be put to a ballot in January.

If businesses vote for the Culture Mile Business Improvement District they will pay a levy raising £1,850,000 in the first year.

The cash will also help fund projects to promote business collaboration and attract more visitors as part of the Destination City programme.

More details about the BID are promised on a new website (now live). The proposals will go to the Corporation’s Policy and Resources committee on October 20.

The Culture Mile BID would be the fifth in the City – yet rather different because of the number of residents in an area that includes Barbican and Golden Lane estates.

The Culture Mile area includes four major developments: refurbishment of the Barbican Centre, the controversial London Wall West office scheme on the site of the Museum of London, the new site for the Museum in Smithfield, and redevelopment of the Smithfield Market site when traders relocate to a new site in Dagenham.

In July the City’s Culture and Heritage committee heard how the BID would lead to a mixed economy business model for the next phase of Culture Mile, with more external funding, and major staff changes.

Once established the BID would give businesses more say in plans previously the responsibility of the City and its Culture Mile team.

Regeneration consultants Primera – who are developing the BID plans – have discussed with local councillors the democratic challenge this presents, and how to live up to a promise in the draft BID strategy:

“Collaboration sits at the heart of the BID model. Understanding the value that each member of our community can contribute to projects is vital. We want to harness the potential of all the communities that make up the Culture Mile area, unlocking new opportunities for all”.

One idea is a Neighbourhood Forum, which would be able to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. In Victoria the BID services a Forum. However, under the Localism Act 2011 the Forum would have to be proposed by at least 21 local people, and approved by the Corporation, so it would be a longer-term solution.

Another idea is a less formal community forum, together with representation of residents on steering groups.


The new Culture Mile BID website has a section on governance, with additions to the first draft:

Business and Community Together

The Culture Mile BID wants to work collaboratively with its residential communities, recognising the valuable contribution the wider community makes to the vibrancy and identity of the area. We want to develop a framework for meaningful engagement, which enables residents to feed into the work of the BID, not simply be informed of its plans. This could take the form of a Community Forum, facilitated by the BID, resident involvement with steering groups and agreed channels of communication between the BID and residential communities, working closely with ward member and resident associations. We want to develop the specific mechanics through dialogue with residents but want to make it clear that we are committed to working hand in hand with residents. Collaboration, diversity and community will be the bedrock of our BID.

Executive team

The Board will be supported by an Executive Team. It is proposed that the Executive Team and associated costs are primarily met through voluntary contributions received and not from the core levy generated.

Additional section

It is the intention that following a successful ballot outcome the Culture Mile BID will appoint Primera to manage and deliver the BID’s proposed activities, with an initial 12 month contract. The strategic leadership will be provided by the Primera BID CEO/Director, supported by a wider executive team.

Kate Hart of Primera provided this comment to clarify my suggestion of possible changes in responsibility: “This is not the remit of the BID – the business community have shaped the proposal and we will work closely with the City Corporation but this is not about the BID replacing any work of the City Corporation. I think it’s more about collaboration and additionality.”

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