The largest businesses in the Westminster part of Fitzrovia have voted in favour of a proposal to create a business improvement district (BID).
Westminster Council, which carried out the vote in October, had asked the business-rate payers holding property with a rateable value of £160,000 and above if they agreed to the proposals for a BID put forward by The Fitzrovia Partnership.
Under the BID rules a simple majority is required by the number voting in favour; and a simple majority of the sum of the rateable value of all those voting in the ballot. In other words, the largest businesses have more voting power.
Out of the 168 businesses eligible to take part in the ballot, only 53 bothered to cast a vote but 91 percent of those did so in favour of the BID and they also held 95 percent of the aggregate rateable value of those voting.
The turnout of 32 percent is significantly smaller than the 41 percent who took part in the ballot to create a BID on the Camden side of the neighbourhood in 2012, also run by The Fitzrovia Partnership.
The BID term for the West Fitzrovia BID will start on 1 December 2023 and end on 30 November 2028. Another ballot is required to renew the BID for a further five years. The area extends as far as Hallam Street in the west and up to the Camden boundary in the east.
“I’m pleased to confirm that businesses in West Fitzrovia have resoundingly supported the formation of the West Fitzrovia Business Improvement District, building on the successes already achieved by The Fitzrovia Partnership over the past 12 years,” said Lee Lyons, chief operating officer. “Our ambition is to provide a seamless set of services across Fitzrovia and the borough boundary to benefit businesses and wider residential community.”
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.
It will operate in a public private partnership with Westminster Council and will charge the 168 businesses — whether they voted for it or not — an annual levy of one percent of their rateable value.
The levy will be collected by Westminster Council on behalf of the BID and will amount to about £4mn over the five-year term.
“Congratulations to West Fitzrovia on their successful BID Ballot result,” said Westminster Council. “This brings the total number of BIDs in the borough to 18.”
The West Fitzrovia BID and East Fitzrovia BID will be governed by a single board of non-executive directors made up of equal numbers of businesses from both areas and chosen by the membership.
Two separate operational sub-boards, one for the West BID and one for the East BID will oversee the delivery of projects in their respective areas and recommend the setting of the annual budget to the governing board.
Around 400 of the largest companies across the neighbourhood will now be paying a total of around £1.8mn every year to The Fitzrovia Partnership from a levy on business rates.
This puts the business group in a very strong position and, if they deliver on their plans, will increase commercial activity, and expand the evening and night time economy across the neighbourhood — something that will further undermine the quality of life for Fitzrovia’s residents.