The Fitzrovia Partnership will hold a ballot in July to secure another five-year term for its business improvement district, backed by a business plan that presents more-of-the-same and little in the way of change or imagination.
Ballot papers will be sent out this month to the 200-odd businesses in the Camden part of Fitzrovia with a rateable value above £160,000 — those liable to pay a levy on their business rates if the vote is successful.
Camden Council would collect the levy — one percent of the rateable value — from each liable businesses rate payer.
“The BID will be in place for five years and all retail, leisure, food and beverage and office businesses at or above the £160,000 threshold of rateable value level will be liable for contributing to the BID,” states a Camden Council report published in April.
The BID’s total income from the levy, voluntary contributions, and private and public funding is estimated at £6.5million across its proposed 5-year term.
|Property Voluntary Contributions||60,000||61,800||63,654||65,564||67,531||318,549|
|Voice & Representation||95,000||97,850||100,786||103,809||106,923||504,368|
|Environment & Place||250,000||257,500||265,225||273,182||281,377||1,327,284|
|Engagement & Communication||250,000||257,500||265,225||273,182||281,377||1,327,284|
|Administration & Management||200,000||206,000||212,180||218,545||225,102||1,061,827|
TFP is governed by a board of directors made of representatives of 15 businesses and property owners in Fitzrovia, and would operate in a public-private partnership with Camden Council, as it has done since 2012.
It is led by David Whittleton, of the multinational professional services firm Arup, who is chair of the board of directors, but its day-to-day running is overseen by its chief operating officer, Lee Lyons.
Under the BID regulations Camden has to confirm whether it is happy for the ballot to go ahead and assess whether the BID proposals conflict with council policy.
The report states that officers have reviewed TFP’s draft business plan and are satisfied that it does not conflict with council policy.
“Its proposals for a new term are largely a continuation of the BID’s current role and services offered to members,” states the report.
But officers made a number of suggestions which included an improved commitment to tree planting and greening, and to reduce waste rather than just increase recycling.
There is no mention of the residents in the officers’ report or how they would be affected by the operation of the BID.
TFP amended its business plan to reflect the comments and suggestions from officers, states the report.
Its final plan is now published and sets out its targets for 2027. Like its draft plan, the final proposals are largely a verbose rehash — full of marketing-speak — of its previous work.
Where it differs from its previous plans is its focus on “sustainable” working, and a new emphasis on al fresco food and drink consumption.
The streateries — fenced off tables and chairs on wooden decking on the edge of the carriageway — were installed to support the food and beverage sector and provide an additional outdoor amenity space for the office community during Covid restrictions, states the business plan.
The extension of alcohol consumption to outside on the street has been a bugbear for many local residents due to the inevitable noise nuisance it has caused — something that Camden Council anticipated but has so far done little about it.
Another development is that TFP is also looking at “West Fitzrovia” with a view of setting up an informal business group ahead of a formal BID in the near future.
Aside from the headline budget figures, there is little detail or measurable indication of what the five-year plan will deliver. A lot of vague promises about a cleaner Fitzrovia and events to attract shoppers and give them a reason to visit the district. It is more of the same from Whittleton and Lyons.
The sweetener for those who have a vote on the continuation of the BID is the claimed savings that TFP says it can deliver — a combined £3million reduction in business costs “through specialist procurement and economies of scale” over the five year period.
For the BID to continue it needs the support of a majority in number of those voting and a majority in proportion of rateable value of those voting.
Postal ballot papers will be sent out to eligible businesses on the 28 June to be returned by 5pm on 28 July. The result will be announced by Camden Council the following day.
Camden Council, decision and report: Fitzrovia Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) Ballot Renewal.
The Fitzrovia Partnership: BID renewal business plan 2022-2027.