Reading: New Abbey Quarter commercial district created

Businesses based in Reading town centre have voted to invest in Reading town centre by renewing Reading Central Business Improvement District (BID) and creating a new Abbey Quarter Commercial District. Both will run for five years, starting on April 1, 2019.

80% of businesses by number and 94% of businesses by rateable value voted in favour of the proposals put forward by Reading UK. Meanwhile, 87% of businesses voted in favour of the Abbey Quarter BID.

Reading Borough Council, as ballot holder in accordance with its electoral role under the Local Government Act 2003, declared the result of the ballot on its website,

Adam Jacobs, chairman of Reading UK, said: “Reading businesses have recognised the value that the BID has brought to Reading over the past 13 years. They have voted to continue that investment in the town centre which will ensure Reading both retains and grows its position as a great place to live, visit, work and do business.

“Reading UK and members of the town centre’s business community will be working hard over the next few months to pull together the detail of the five-year investment programme for the two BIDs in order to start delivering tangible benefits as soon as possible. We thank them for their confidence in a shared and ambitious vision for Reading and its fantastic community.”

Following a consultation of businesses in the town centre, the proposals for the BIDs 2019-24 were drawn up to reflect local business priorities.

Reading Central BID

Reading Central BID has been in existence since 2006 and is focused on the streets around Broad Street, from Jacksons’ Corner to Broad Street Mall and the Oracle to the Station. This latest vote is the third time town centre businesses have renewed the BID. Over the past five years, the Central BID has provided £2.2 million extra private investment in the town centre.

Reading UK has exciting and ambitious plans for the Central BID 2019-24 aimed at making the town centre more attractive and secure for shoppers, visitors and our own business community, supporting business growth, investing in Reading’s night time economy, as well as delivering business intelligence and information to the town centre business community.

 Abbey Quarter Commercial District

The new Abbey Quarter BID covers the area surrounding Reading Abbey and includes many of Reading’s new central office buildings. This is an area which has developed fast in recent years and has the potential to become a world-class business location and a great place in which to live and work. The new BID will help deliver improvements in public realm and regenerate the Kennet, support place marketing, create safer and cleaner public spaces and work with businesses to help them attract and retain the very best talent.

Examples of activity it will fund include security/warden service, events programme to animate public spaces, health and wellbeing initiatives for staff who work in the area, a staff benefits scheme, lighting schemes and creative use of the waterways.

Reading Borough Council leader Jo Lovelock said: “I am delighted that businesses have voted to renew the Reading Central Business Improvement District (BID) and to create the new Abbey Quarter Commercial District.

“Since it was first established back in 2006 the Central BID has played a major role in helping to support the continued economic success of the town centre and of Reading as a whole. During the current BID period (2014-19), almost £2.5 million of additional funding has been raised though the BID which has helped fund a wide range of initiatives, all aimed at improving the attractiveness of the town centre and supporting its continued economic success. I am certain that both BIDS will go from strength to strength.”

Over 850 businesses and organisations within the town centre’s two BID areas were balloted on the proposals.

The new BIDs will take effect from April 1. All businesses will pay a 1% levy on their business rates. In addition, businesses in the night-time economy will pay an extra 2% levy which will support specific ring-fenced activities for that part of the economy.