Businesses in St Albans to pay extra 1.8 per cent levy after BID success

Crowds of people on St Peter's Street

Crowds of people on St Peter's Street - Credit: Archant

A proposed business initiative which will give a £2.6 million boost to St Albans city centre has been given the go-ahead.

Following the close of a ballot yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, a successful - but close - vote on the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) was announced today.

The result was declared by the ballot holder, Michael Lovelady, the district council’s head of legal, democratic and regulatory services.

However, there was a low response to the scheme, with just a 36.9 per cent turnout. Of the 189 votes, 97 were in favour of the scheme and 92 opposed it.

The total rateable value of the area is £11.8 million, of which £6.6 million (56.1 per cent) voted for its introduction and £5.2 million (43.9 per cent) voted against it.

Around 530 businesses and other bodies in the designated BID area were eligible to vote.

A BID is a defined area in which the businesses have agreed to a levy that will deliver a five-year programme of marketing, events and schemes to improve the city’s appearance. Its proposers also promised an increase in visitor numbers.

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For the scheme to be successful, it needed a straight majority, as well as a majority based on rateable values.

The BID will run for a maximum of five years at which point another vote would be required for it to continue.

The designated business area includes St Peter’s Street, High Street, Chequer Street and Holywell Hill as well as side roads in the central part of the city.

It also takes in two shopping centres - The Maltings and Christopher Place - along with the Cathedral and the council’s offices.

Among the businesses involved are shops, estate agents, law firms, cafes, restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and hotels.

St Albans City Centre Partnership (CCP) launched its campaign to create a BID earlier this year.

Under the plan for St Albans, businesses in the area will pay a levy of a proposed 1.8 per cent of their rateable value. Those with rateable values of less than £10,000 will be exempt.

Around £500,000 will be raised annually, and the CCP has identified several projects for BID spending.

The scheme will start in spring next year and be run by a chair and a board of directors, supported by full-time staff.