Chelmsford businesses vote YES

We are very pleased to announce that businesses in Chelmsford City Centre have voted strongly in favour of One Chelmsford's proposals for a Business Improvement District (BID). Chelmsford will now join over 280 other places throughout the UK that have already seen their own BIDs transform their town and city centres. The Chelmsford BID will be one of the largest in the region.

The result was announced this week following a month long postal ballot during which the owners of the 461 business premises in the BID area voted 72% in favour. The turnout was 29%. Businesses  have voted for a 1.5% levy on their rateable values, which will raise around £650,000 per year to be used to support business growth initiatives in the city centre.

For Chelmsford it’s the culmination of 18 months’ work for the business representatives on the BID Steering Group, who put together the proposals that were tested at ballot. One Chelmsford, which will be a business led not-for-profit company to run the BID, will now aim to start work from April and deliver over £3m plus of investment over the next five years.

The BID will focus on the three main areas detailed on our website, which have been developed with in-depth business input:-

Creating and marketing a great city centre experience – focusing on marketing, events, the evening economy, animating the public realm and supporting a diverse range of businesses

Addressing city centre operational issues – focussing on a safe, welcoming and accessible city centre

Strengthening the business community – focusing on building networks, presenting a strong business voice and saving money.

The Chelmsford City Centre BID will be inclusive and have a voluntary membership scheme for businesses outside the actual BID area. In addition, the BID company will link up with other establishments to ensure a coordinated approach.

The BID area covers most of the city centre area from the train station in the north, to the Odeon Roundabout in the south.

Neil Ridley, Chairman of the Steering Group, said: “It’s a unique opportunity for city centre businesses to build on Chelmsford’s recent momentum and ensure a strong city centre for the future. I have no doubt the BID will make a real difference and help business growth. After five years, the BID Company will submit proposals for another ballot to seek another mandate for the next five years and I’m confident that by then we will have shown practically why it should continue.”

Mr Ridley said the BID would not have happened without a huge amount of support from a variety of organisations: “While it’s important to say this is absolutely a totally independent initiative for businesses by businesses, our thanks also go to Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council as well as the Essex Chamber of Commerce for aiding the opportunity and supporting the initiative with finance and resource.”

“Also thanks go to all members of the Steering Group who have given so much of their time and effort and thanks to our advisers – The Means, who have guided the process throughout.”

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Councillor Roy Whitehead, added, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted. We are extremely happy with the outcome and look forward to the BID delivering significant change to benefit the local area. We are very excited about continuing our work to make the City of Chelmsford a destination of choice.”

There is now much work to be done by the Steering Group and the new board that is to be formed. The aim will be to get the BID off to a running start quickly and identify where it can deliver some quick wins while we make plans for our longer term vision.