A meeting hosted by the British Jewellers’ Association to propose a Business Improvement District (BID) in Hatton Garden drew an audience of more than 200 people.
An unexpectedly large crowd of businesspeople from London’s jewellery quarter gathered in Etc Venues on Hatton Garden to hear the case for introducing a scheme which would entail compulsory financial contributions from local businesses to regenerate the area and bolster trade.
Proceedings opened with an impassioned address from the BJA’s chairman Gary Williams, who questioned why Hatton Garden is not the thriving centre that “it once was”, and implored those present to club together and embrace a scheme which could make the area “great again”.
Introducing a BID gives the local business community powers to raise money for initiatives as varied as putting up additional road signage for leading to the area, or even running shuttle bus services from other parts of town, according to Williams.
The meeting’s principal speakers included Jeremy Shapiro of Camden Council, Jason Holt of Holts Gems, and Alistair Subba Row, a partner at local chartered surveyors Farebrother, who gave a presentation explaining what the central tenets of a BID framework include. He is also chairman of the Camden Business Board and has contributed to a series of other BID proposals in the past.
Subba Row explained that whilst community groups such as the existing Chancery Lane Association are voluntarily funded, a BID involves mandatory payments from businesses in the catchment area, and avoids the problem of “a lot of freeloaders who do not contribute to the cost” of any new innovations and developments in the area. He estimated that around £450,000 per year could be raised for Hatton Garden and the immediate vicinity.
The scheme would last for five years and is designed to allow local business communities to operate an extreme form of local government, as the BID may only apply to a handful of streets or postcodes. There are currently 36 BIDs in operation throughout Greater London, but the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson is hopeful that another 50 can be secured before his second term in office expires.