Chester unites to seek BID status

CHESTER is to seek Business Improvement District status. in a bid to reverse the decline in the city centre.

A number of national retailers, including Primark, Boots, M&S, and landlord Grosvenor have teamed up with independent businesees, Chester Racecourse and Chester Cathedral to lead the BID move.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) already exist in Liverpool and Manchester and are a means of businesses pooling resources to improve a defined commercial area.

Examples can include marketing campaigns or staging events to drive footfall.

All businesses within a designated area are asked to vote on whether or not to pay a small levy on top of their business rates which is pooled to provide a fund that can be allocated to a wide range of improvements, as agreed by the businesses themselves.   

In Chester, although the exact reach of the BIS area has yet to be determined, the CH1 Chester BID Company has been created.

The group is being led on an interim basis by independent business owner Paul Daniels, who said: “It’s no secret that Chester’s city centre businesses are facing real challenges. Over the last 15 years, the city has moved from being in the top 10 in the national league table of retail centres down to the mid 30s .

“As well as increasing competition from out-of-town development, businesses are being hard hit by a dramatic increase in online shopping.”

He said the Chester BID is a “real opportunity” to help tackle such challeneges.

“We will be talking to each and every business owner/operator and over the next few months we will gather views and ideas and see what they might cost and how they can be delivered. The proposed 1% of business rates levy will be amongst the lowest in the UK.”

The CH1 Chester BID board members will be hosting the first of many information drop-in sessions in the Pallatine Room of the Town Hall on October 8 between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.

Also representing CH1 Chester BID Company is Bride Hall – joint owner of Grosvenor Shopping Centre.  Director Roger Gorham said: “We cannot be complacent. Chester has stood still whilst other towns and cities have moved forward.
“We need to improve the physical environment, and enhance and promote the city’s offer, making Chester a place where people want to visit, work and live.”