Business rate payers in Kingston-upon-Thames have voted to set up an improvement district to boost the local economy and provide a vibrant and competitive place in which to operate. This is the first Business Improvement District scheme to be implemented under regulations introduced in September this yearBusinesses will pay a one per cent supplement on the rateable value of properties and this will generate 4 million pounds over five years and double the Royal Borough of Kingston’s current spending on the town centre services. The new funding will provide a package of improvements which will enhance the quality and viability of the area. These include the provision of environmental rangers to clean streets and remove chewing gum, the appointment of “community rangers” to deter anti-social behaviour, as well as better transport and access to the town centre through funding and promotion of Park and Ride schemes.
There will also be support for small businesses by improving access to government-funded training, advice on business development, seminars on issues relevant to small businesses and independent retailers which would also create networking opportunities.
The scheme will start in January 2005 and it is expected to halt a decline in visitor numbers and bring an additional one million visitors to the town centre each year.
The London Development Agency plans to develop a further four pilot Business Improvement Districts across central London. There are also plans for 22 pilot districts for the rest of the UK. All the pilots will share lessons through a Learning Network.