Print

BID's - the power of business in Placemaking

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) - powerful partnerships for local places with national implications.

Darling St, Balmain, Sydney, NSW, AUS: Can film stars & research save Balmain's high street after failed efforts by council and landlords?Darling St, Balmain, Sydney, NSW, AUS: Can film stars & research save Balmain's high street after failed efforts by council and landlords?Written by: Andrew Hammonds

Thanks to Main Street Australia


According to the SMH, high profile Balmain locals are working together to halt the demise of the Darling Street strip. They are reacting to vacant shopfronts, declining footfall and few business newcomers. While Leichhardt council has attempted to draw shoppers (with limited free parking and spending $500,000 on initiatives to boost local business last year alone) leaders of a new lobbying effort – the Peninsula Partnership – say more permanent solutions are needed.

This type of local and coordinated action is being formalised nationally and internationally through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) as promoted in The Power Booklet, published by Mainstreet Australia.  Potentially addressing the combined pressures of on-line shopping, mega malls, an ageing demographic and high rents affecting hundreds of declining high streets across Australia.

Let's start with the concept.

From an international perspective, a BID is a legal mechanism for property owners and/or businesses in a defined geographical area or place. Critically, it provides sustainable funding for coordinated improvements. BIDs have been established in traditional or new main street centres from cities to regional and rural communities.

Hotel Gosford, Mann St, Gosford, NSW, AUS: Gosford Business Improvement District Incorporated (GBID) is an independent not for profit organisation which allocates and manages the funds collected by Gosford City Council from commercial property owners within a designated area in Gosford City Centre.Hotel Gosford, Mann St, Gosford, NSW, AUS: Gosford Business Improvement District Incorporated (GBID) is an independent not for profit organisation which allocates and manages the funds collected by Gosford City Council from commercial property owners within a designated area in Gosford City Centre.For example, the Gosford Business Improvement District Incorporated (GBID) was established in 2008 after consultation with the business community. A special levy is collected from commercial property owners to fund activities. GBID's core role is to:

  • improve the city through events, festivals, city beautification works,
  • ensure adequate security;
  • encourage business retention; and
  • new businesses to fill vacant premises. 

The Benefits

Main St Australia propose the following benefits from initiatives coordinated locally. For business:

  • increased sales though coordinated marketing and promotional campaigns
  • reduced costs through coordinated buying power
  • increased influence through local and national advocacy
  • increased patronage through business mix

Victoria St, Richmond, VIC, AUS: has a traders association supported by The City of YarraVictoria St, Richmond, VIC, AUS: has a traders association supported by The City of YarraFor property owners:

  • increased rental levels and capital growth and reduced vacancy
  • hrough coordinated influence and advocacy
  • decreased risks through independence from local government
  • attraction of investment and development

For government:

  • Coordinated engagement with the private sector
  • Efficient use of existing infrastructure
  • Enhanced delivery of policies
  • Reduction in public sector funding
  • Broader tax base by improving liveability and attracting residents

A range of activities and services

According to Main St Australia, BIDs can deliver programs over and above those provided by a local Council, including:

  • Centre management and branding and marketing
  • Business training and development
  • Proactive strategies to improve the business mix
  • Organisation of coordinated opening hours
  • Activation of public spaces
  • Safety and security in the centre
  • Way finding signage
  • Research on various aspects of a centre
  • Monitoring and evaluation of activity

Sounds too good to be true?

There is a counter argument, as summarised by the Guardian. BIDs could be anti-democratic, part-privatising and unconcerned with the wishes of residents and smaller businesses, whose priorities for change in a neighbourhood might be different. I would add overlap with Council services and activities while rates remain stable or increase. However, I suspect these concerns can be addressed during foundation and operation.

What's your experience with BIDs? Positive or negative? Is there a case for national coordination of BID's - sharing resources and saving money?


We generate discussion in our training courses on Placemaking and urban design. While there are common qualities to the places we like, our own views matter. I started this blog to continue this discussion on-line. The Comments section at the bottom of each article provides the opportunity, so don't be bashful. Particularly if you disagree!

To read our latest articles Subscribe to PlacePost - our newsletter on Urban Design and Placemaking.


Written: 19 May, 2016

Additional Information

Introduction to Placemaking and Urban DesignWhat type of Placemaking is best for your situation?

Placefocus Articles

Urban Design tools, tips and techniquesOrganisational Placemaking - Innovation and ImprovementOrganisational Placemaking - Transition and Change;  Organisational Placemaking - Culture & StructureThe business of placeThe Strategy of Placemaking;  Placemaking - techniques, tools and ideasCreative Placemaking - ideas and examples


With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo by thinking differently. More importantly, we aim to enable and empower people to do it themselves.

That's why most of our products are free - articlesinformationtoolstechniques and ideas - available 24/7.

You can also fast-track change with our manualtrainingpresentationsworkshops and advice.

Seeking transformation?

Call Andrew Hammonds on (+617) 3102 1976 or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Best Viewed

This site is best viewed in 1024 x 768 true color with IE7.0+ or Firefox 3.0+ or Googles Chrome. This site also has video content, so if your able to view sites like Youtube or Vimeo then viewing this site is ok, just be aware of downloading charges by your ISP.