The Square Mile has remained attractive to firms, workers and visitors over its long history in part by constantly reinventing itself. We have welcomed media, creative and tech firms as well as those from the traditional financial and professional services sectors.
A relatively recent development is the rise of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), which the City of London Corporation sees as a key vehicle for engaging with communities to promote regeneration of local areas.
Subject to successful ballot outcomes this month, the City will have BIDs in Cheapside and Aldgate. In addition, two voluntary business partnerships have been established for Fleet Street and the Eastern City Cluster that in time will seek to become formal BIDs.
The City of London Corporation owns a number of properties in the Square Mile. That is why we have agreed to be a funding partner in the Fleet Street partnership and we will consider a similar request for the Eastern City Cluster, given our portfolio at Leadenhall Market.
BIDs work with businesses and landlords to develop a plan to deliver on key themes for their area. Businesses vote on whether to accept a mandatory levy to fund the activities in the BID plan. They are a unique way for the private sector to work with us on shared priorities such as the public realm, security, traffic and air quality.
In times of political and economic uncertainty, business communities increasingly want their voice to be heard in a co-ordinated way. This is in the best tradition of the City: engaging with business, thinking long term and looking outwards.Firms realise that having a world-class environment for staff, clients and customers is essential to delivering on their commercial and social responsibilities.
The City of London Corporation knows that listening to businesses and understanding the issues on their agenda is important to realise our vision of a 24/7 Square Mile. That is why we recently adopted a strategy to inform our approach when business partnerships are established and progress to a more formal BID.
This strategy sets out some of the key considerations we will take into account – such as level of support, viability of objectives and engagement with residential communities – when it comes to supporting and managing the development of BIDs in the City.
Employment in the City reached a record high of 522,000 in 2018 and is forecast to swell by a further 100,000 in the coming years, with much of this growth expected to be centred in the Eastern City Cluster.
We want to work with the private sector to ensure that this growth is sustainable. So I am glad that the likes of Tenacity Group, London & Oriental, Brookfield, HK-CC Land, LKK-Infinitus Property Investment and other businesses have given the capital a vote of confidence by forming the Eastern City Cluster partnership. They aim to work with the City Corporation to ensure that the area is globally recognised as an exemplar business district – a vision that we support.
London’s remains open, dynamic and resilient. Our strong fundamentals and creative energy make it is an exciting time for businesses based here or looking to move in. By working with BIDs and business partnerships, we can help to ensure that the City has a bright future for generations to come.
Tom Sleigh is Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Property Investment Board