Businesses in Fitzrovia West with a rateable value (RV) above £160,000 will be asked to vote this month on whether they want to create a business improvement district (BID).
Update: We have been told by Westminster Council that the proposed West Fitzrovia BID ballot will no longer be going ahead as planned across the period of June and July. See our report here.
The Fitzrovia Partnership, which has run a BID in Fitzrovia East since 2012, has published its business plan for “West Fitzrovia”, setting out its priorities for the district, and has been busy cajoling business owners to part with their money.
Ballot papers will be sent out on Tuesday 13 June and must be returned by 5pm on Tuesday 11 July.
The ballot will be administered by Westminster Council’s electoral services office and the results will be announced on Wednesday 12 July. The five-year BID term will run from 1 August 2023 until 31 July 2028.
If successful, all business rate payers in West Fitzrovia with a property RV above £160,000 (as of 31 March 2023 using the 2017 list for all eligible ratepayers) will be compelled to pay the BID levy of one percent of their rateable value — whether they voted for it or not.
The levy, along with contributions from property owners, is anticipated to raise more than £4.2mn over the five year BID term.
The West Fitzrovia business plan 2023-2028 identifies six “work programs” and promises to cut costs for its members, improve the trading environment, and tempt more visitors into the area.
The largest budget item is “Environment & Place”, where its focus is on outside dining (which will include drinking), additional street cleaning, uniformed street wardens, greening, and sign-posting visitors into the neighbourhood from Oxford Street.
The BID proposal was approved by Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for planning and economic development, in a decision taken on 2 May. BIDs operate in a public-private partnership with local government.
The West Fitzrovia BID and The Fitzrovia Partnership BID will be governed by a single board of between 12 and 18 non-executive directors made up of equal numbers of businesses from both areas and chosen by the membership.
David Whittleton of Arup is the current chair of the board of directors of The Fitzrovia Partnership, and its chief operating officer is Lee Lyons.
“Reporting to this board will be separate operational sub-boards, one for West Fitzrovia and one for The Fitzrovia Partnership Camden BID that will oversee the delivery of projects in their respective areas and recommend the setting of the annual budget to the overarching board,” states the business plan.
For residents in Fitzrovia West, a business improvement district will mean a change in the character of the neighbourhood — increased commercial activity, and an expansion of the evening and night time economy which will spill over into its hitherto quieter streets.
Amy Lamé, the Mayor of London’s champion of a 24-hour city, has endorsed the plans.
“I welcome the formation of the new West Fitzrovia Business Improvement District, which will use expert local knowledge to further connect businesses to those who use the area. I look forward to working with them in their efforts to support a thriving round-the-clock offer, including tackling violence against women and girls,” said Lamé.
The proposed West Fitzrovia BID boundary borders with the existing Harley Street BID and the New West End Company BID in Westminster, and with The Fitzrovia Partnership BID and the Central District Alliance BID in Camden.