Reading: Businesses urged to back new commercial quarter

Reading UK is investigating the potential interest from businesses to develop a new commercial business improvement district (BID) in Reading’s historic Abbey Quarter.

The aim of the new BID would be to deliver improvements for businesses in areas such as public realm, place marketing, regenerating waterways, safer and cleaner streets and a host of other positive services, creating an extra investment in the area of almost £2 million over five years. 

 As the non-profit inward investment company for Reading, Reading UK has a track record in attracting national and international investors and businesses to the town. Since 2006, Reading UK has also initiated and managed Reading town-centre BID – one of the first established outside London. Over 500 businesses have voted consistently to support Reading BID on three occasions since 2006.

Nigel Horton-Baker, executive director, Reading UK said: “The consultation responses we receive will help us shape a five-year business plan which will be put to a democratic vote of all the businesses in the proposed new Abbey Quarter BID area in January 2019.

“This is an opportunity to promote the Abbey Quarter nationally as a unique, iconic business location and attractive place to work, linked to a vibrant town centre. By positively exploiting the historic Abbey Ruins re-opening, making full use of the untapped opportunities our waterways afford and possible developments on the Reading prison site, we can make the Abbey Quarter a great place to work, do business and enjoy leisure time.” 

A Business Improvement District (BID) is an area with a mandate to create extra services in addition to those already provided by the public authorities in order to maximise a positive experience for businesses, shoppers and workers. The decision to create and continue a Commercial District is business driven and enabled through a vote of all eligible businesses in the BID area.  If carried, businesses contribute a small levy on their business rates (typically around 1%) to deliver the plan.

Reading UK will be actively engaging with Abbey Quarter companies over the next two months to canvas interest and garner ideas on the services they might like to see adopted.

The area for consultation will take in: Kings Rd-Kennet St, Queens Rd (North), Watlington St, Highbridge Wharf, Crane Wharf, Kenavon Drive, The Forbury, Forbury Rd, Abbey St, Abbey Square.