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Reading BID lays out plans for two new BIDs for town

Plans to create two new Business Improvement District (BID) organisations in Reading have been unveiled.

Over a hundred businesses in the town centre Reading Business Improvement District (BID) and Abbey Quarter BID areas came together in The Roost in Thames Tower to learn more about plans.

The current BIDs in Reading reach the end of their five-year terms on March 31, 2024.

In the New Year, Reading BID will be launching the business plans for two proposed Business Improvement Districts 2024-29 for the town centre – to create the fifth consecutive iteration of Reading Central Business Improvement District and a second term for an Abbey Quarter Business Improvement District.

The two separate proposals will be voted on by the businesses located in the two relevant areas of the town centre in late January 2024.

The event in Thames Tower was also a chance to review the successes of the last five years as well as forming part of the consultation process with local businesses on what they would like to see in business plans for potential new BIDs starting next spring.

The BIDs’ activities since 2019 have included providing Business Wardens to help tackle shoplifting, Reading’s Christmas lights and summer floral displays, a town centre events programme, street cleaning, recycling collection schemes, and staff wellbeing and training programmes.

Based on feedback from town centre businesses, the BID announced areas of business support for two new potential 2024-29 BIDs, including activity in the areas of:

  • Social & Healthy – from business networking to staff engagement initiatives and wellbeing activities
  • Enhancing & Exciting – Christmas lighting, multi-cultural celebrations, seasonal events and summer floral installations
  • Safe & Secure – business wardens, CCTV, lighting and street furniture improvements
  • Environment & Sustainable – Cardboard and WEE recycling schemes, energy saving projects, trees for streets
  • Informed & Represented – business promotional space, job fairs, training courses, visitor economy and inward investment campaigns

Alexa Volker, Reading BID manager, said: “Over the last five years, Reading BID has invested around £5 million in making Reading town centre a better place in which to work, live, visit and do business.

“Feedback from our businesses show that we have been investing that money wisely and their priorities will shape the direction of travel for potential future BIDs starting in 2024.

“Town centre businesses tell us the huge difference Reading BID makes to the town centre, from enhanced security to better trained staff and we will be putting to them an exciting new proposition to continue this work early in 2024.”

Reading mayor Tony Page said: “Reading town centre today looks enormously different to when I first became a councillor.

“It’s gone from ‘Sleepy Hollow’, with last buses at 11pm, to a 24-hour diverse and vibrant city in all but name.

“For the past 16 years, the BID has reflected and represented the ever-changing make-up of our town centre businesses, from retail to hospitality, leisure and offices, ensuring that we support individual business success through a wide range of initiatives that make Reading a great place in which to work, do business, visit or live.

“The BID has been a vital part of the economic growth of our town centre and it is essential that it continues to be so, and Reading Borough Council looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the BID for many years to come.”

Reading Central BID has been in existence since 2006, since when it has been successfully renewed four times by town centre businesses.

Reading Abbey Quarter BID was created in 2019 and includes many of the town centre’s office buildings. The BID has supported the businesses through the pandemic and helped deliver improvements in areas such as public realm, place marketing, regeneration of the Kennet, and activities to help businesses attract and retain the very best talent.