BID launches five year plan to secure up to £4.5m investment for city centre

Belfast One, the Business Improvement District (BID) for the city centre, has launched its business plan with a focus on investment to attract footfall and make the city cleaner, safer and greener over the next five years.

Almost 650 businesses eligible to vote will receive copies of the plan this week and asked to return their re-ballot papers by March 25 as part of the official electoral process for the BID to secure a second term, with the result announced on Friday March 26.

Belfast One has invested almost £4m in projects during its first term after 84 per cent of city centre businesses voted in favour of making Belfast a Business Improvement District back in 2015.

The BID, a not-for-profit body was set to promote, enhance and support city centre businesses, and the plan outlines how it will support businesses – which span retail, hospitality and professional services – for a second term from April 2021 to 2026.

Highlights of the first term included running high profile events including Belfast Restaurant Weeks and seasonal events Santa’s Post Office and outdoor Summer Cinema, to increase footfall as well as initiatives to make the city cleaner and safer and more accessible.  Its Clean Team has removed over 25 tonnes of litter and more than 1,800 pieces of graffiti. Belfast One has also been the main funder of two PSNI City Centre Beat officers who have delivered over 20,000 hours of additional policing in the Belfast One area.

Managing Director of Belfast One Kathleen McBride, said: “The last year has been an incredibly challenging one for our businesses but they have proven how adaptive, reactive and resilient they can be.

“We have continued to support them by creating an information hub highlighting updates on support available, as well as an increased specialised cleaning presence by our Clean Team, with a focus on shop fronts, disinfecting and power washing.

“We have also provided free online workshops as well as running a re-opening campaign focusing on public safety and confidence in the city centre. Our most successful initiative, the Belfast City Centre gift card will continue to support our businesses during the re-opening and recovery after this lockdown.”

Mrs McBride said that the focus of the next term would be on working in partnership with key organisations, including Belfast City Council, Belfast Chamber of Commerce and the PSNI, to continue to improve the city centre and make it a more welcoming place for visitors and businesses to invest, work and relax.

“We will act as an agent of change to create growth and employment and to help sustain the area as a major engine of the Belfast economy.

“Our plan is focussed on three clear elements – promote, enhance and support – for the city centre and its businesses.

“We will promote businesses by driving footfall into the city through events, promotional campaigns with partners and identifying opportunities to support evening economy.

“We will enhance the city by delivering projects which will improve the visitor experience and enable businesses to thrive in a positive trading environment with a focus on a safer, cleaner and more attractive and accessible city.

“Our support will include continued efforts to drive down business costs and providing practical support like workshops and training to all businesses within the BID area. There is also a focus on sustainability as we plan to increase recycling opportunities and offer more competitive services to our levy payers to encourage uptake.”