Council gives support to One Chelmsford proposals to push the city centre forward

Local businesses have received backing from Chelmsford City Council to move ahead with a ballot for their positive proposals for Chelmsford’s City Centre.

Businesses are proposing creating a Business Improvement District (BID), called One Chelmsford, which will give businesses the opportunity to help shape and grow the success of the city centre. If successful, Chelmsford will be following the lead of more than 270 locations in the UK that now have a BID in place.

A BID is a defined area within which businesses elect to pay a levy in order to fund projects within the district’s boundaries. BIDs are funded primarily through this levy but they can also attract significant extra funding from other public and private funding streams. In order to implement a BID, the proposals must be voted on by businesses who would pay the levy and the ballot must be won on two counts: a straight majority and majority of rateable value. This ensures that the interests of large and small businesses are protected.

In Chelmsford’s case, the area will involve over 450 businesses and is anticipated to raise over £3m for investment in the City Centre over the course of its five-year term before a chance for renewal.

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Councillor Roy Whitehead, said “It is great to see businesses in Chelmsford getting together proactively to set up a BID. The Cabinet was pleased to see the amount of effort that has been put in to create their proposals. Chelmsford City Centre has benefitted from investment in recent years and a successful BID will help to keep this momentum and bring significant further benefits to businesses, visitors and residents.”

Following agreement by the City Council that the ballot can take place, the BID proposals will be officially launched by December, with postal polling running for about four weeks from mid-January to mid-February. If successful, One Chelmsford will move quickly to start operating from April 2018.

Neil Ridley, Chair of the One Chelmsford steering committee and representing Bond Street and Aquila, said: “It is fantastic that the City Council has agreed for the ballot to take place – it’s an important milestone. We have conducted a detailed survey of the local business community to get to this point so we are looking forward to everyone having the chance to vote formally on the proposals. Our work so far has shown a large amount of support.

“One Chelmsford will mean investment of over £3m to deliver our pledges over five years, as well as attracting funding from other sources.”

Manager of Chelmsford’s new John Lewis store, Laura Rawston, said: “I’m excited to be working in Chelmsford and to be a part of its ongoing journey of shaping itself as a great destination for retail and leisure. One Chelmsford will be looking to deliver immediate benefits, as well as helping to grow this long-term future. We will measure its impact so the benefits are clear.”

Spencer Davis, who works with local solicitor Gepp & Sons, founded in Chelmsford in 1768, is also on the steering committee. “Chelmsford City Centre is a vibrant mix of different businesses so it’s important that Chelmsford BID delivers something for everyone. It will play a key role in making sure Chelmsford is a really attractive place for staff to work and settle and will continue to grow the business networks in the city centre. One thing that’s particularly exciting for smaller businesses is the possibility to work together as a large group of businesses to reduce costs through joint procurement of common services.”

Summing up, Neil Ridley said: “Chelmsford has experienced a significant amount of investment in recent years. This is a key opportunity to make sure that the whole of the City Centre is brought along and experiences the benefits together. We can achieve much more by working together.


For media enquiries please contact Neil Ridley on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Further information can be found at

A steering group of businesses has been leading on developing the BID proposals.

Over 100 city centre businesses have been consulted to help shape them.

In response to these consultations, One Chelmsford is pledging to achieve outcomes under three themes:

Destination Chelmsford:

  • To raise Chelmsford’s profile, co-ordinating a city-centre marketing strategy including helping businesses present a positive image, a digital and social media strategy for the city centre, and filling gaps in visitor information
  • Enhancing the City’s events programme and providing opportunities for business involvement
  • Animating our public spaces, for example by making more creative use of our rivers
  • Developing an ‘Evening in Chelmsford’ strategy to support the transition from the day-time to night-time economy
  • Championing business diversity and creative use of empty spaces

City Centre Operations

  • Working with partners to make the area safe and more welcoming, for example by co-ordinating the collection and sharing of intelligence on business-crime, nuisance behaviours and public realm issues. Acting as the eyes and ears to support efforts by the council and Police to address these
  • Providing a uniformed on-street ambassador presence at key times of the year
  • Ensuring Chelmsford sparkles: providing additional wet-washing or grot-spot cleaning at strategic times where necessary
  • Championing improvements to traffic management, parking and transport infrastructure

Stronger Business Community

  • Securing savings for businesses
  • Making sure businesses have a voice in the strategic planning of Chelmsford
  • Advocating for businesses in the City Centre and monitoring and championing the effective use of business rates as we move towards a system of more local retention
  • Keeping businesses well informed and providing networking opportunities

Supporting businesses with the provision of key intelligence about Chelmsford and its visitors