Edgware Road could receive financial boost

Businesses asked their view on pooling money to fund facelift

EDGWARE Road could soon be given a much-needed facelift as plans to form a Business Improvement District continue to gather momentum.

Businesses along the road are currently being contacted to see if they would be willing to pay an approximate one per cent business levy rise to fund the scheme.

If it gets the go-ahead, the BID will aim to use the money to fund improvements to the overall trading environment as set out by priorities the business bosses involved deem the most important.

A total of 528 businesses have been identified as potential BID members who will get the chance to vote on whether they support the scheme. If more than 50 per cent of businesses approve, it will be compulsory for all businesses in the area to contribute.

Hyde Park Councillor Heather Acton said: “We are trying to get it up and running as a business initiative but it has got to be something that the businesses themselves want to do.

“The examples of the other BIDs bring added value to the area and the businesses – if they work together as a lobby group – are made into a much stronger force.

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“The area is in need of some investment – it needs greening, de-cluttering and a bit of love and attention.

“If everybody works together I think we could make some good improvements.”

More than 100 BIDs are already in existence across the UK including in Paddington and Bayswater.

The Edgware Road BID would include all shops, offices, cafes, restaurants and other service providers along Edgware Road, and adjacent side streets, between the Marylebone Flyover and Marble Arch.

Priorities determined by traders involved in a potential BID could range from cleaning pavements to improving shop fronts or redeveloping a specific site.

Hyde Park Safer Neighbourhood Panel chairman Jack Gordon said: “We want people to come to Edgware Road to experience all that’s great in Middle Eastern cuisine – for people to be able to shop and enjoy themselves.

“With the way the Edgware Road is at the moment it is impossible to do that because you are fighting with the traffic.

“Unless it is made more appealing, more attractive and becomes a magnet for more people, it is going to stay a dystopian, run down, unsightly road with unattractive street furniture.

“It could be the jewel in the neighbourhood’s crown.”

Landowners Portman Estate and Church Commissioners, as well as the Victoria Grosvenor Casino and Westminster Council have commissioned consultants Urban

Practitioners to conduct a feasibility study into an Edgware Road BID.

Simon Loomes, Portman Estate strategic project director, said: “I think it’s an area that needs investment in the streetscape and a coordinated effort to improve the quality of the area in general to bring it up to the standard of central London.”

A feasibility study for the BID is currently being drawn up and a draft plan is expected to be presented to businesses in the coming months with the BID proposed to be put forward in 2012.