Business Plan to secure £550,000 of new investment for Shirley town centre

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An ambitious five-year Business Plan to help bring £550,000 of investment into Shirley town centre has been unveiled.

The document has been drawn up by the proposed Business Improvement District (BID) for the Stratford Road corridor and developed through a year-long consultation process with more than 250 local businesses.

A BID is a defined geographical area within which local businesses collaborate to invest in initiatives that improve the environment in which they work.

BIDs deliver additional services to those provided by the local authority and the police.

Local businesses will get the opportunity to vote for the implementation of the Shirley BID in May 2018.

The Business Plan encompasses those projects which have the greatest potential for improving trade and vibrancy in the town centre and forms the cornerstone of the Shirley BID’s first term between 2018-2023.

According to the Shirley BID Shadow Board, the town centre is not currently performing as well as required in economic terms and needs to ensure it competes more effectively with surrounding centres.

Many neighbouring areas already have BIDs and the proposed Shirley BID has the backing of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

The Shirley BID would be funded by a 1.5% levy on the current rateable value of eligible businesses in the proposed BID area, with small businesses under a rateable value of £7,500 exempt.

It has been calculated that for the average business, the cost of the BID levy would be less than £1.35 per day.

Proposals in the five-year Business Plan for 2018-2023 include:

• Employ a BID warden to react quickly to problem issues, such as litter or graffiti

• Work with partners to deliver improved visitor WiFi

• Develop at least two major new town centre events

• Introduce an annual calendar of street markets

• Make ongoing investments to improve the Christmas light displays

• Promotional campaigns to highlight independent businesses

• Introduce activities to create pop-up shops

• Lobby for improvements to existing car park facilities and the introduction of parking meters where required

• Work with partner organisations to improve street paving maintenance

The effectiveness of the Shirley BID Business Plan would be measured by regular surveys, analysis of footfall and sales performance data, plus tracking of vacant unit levels.

Indra Collins, Manager, Nando’s Shirley, said: “Nearby towns are getting stronger so standing still is not an option and the BID will be solely focused on working to achieve the best results for the town and its businesses.”

Sandra Grice, Community Life Champion at ASDA Shirley and Chair of the Shirley BID Shadow Board, said: “Shirley town centre has many strengths, which include its varied retail mix, its leisure offer and the fact that it is a great location, although, as with many other towns, Shirley has suffered at the hands of the economic conditions and the growth of online shopping.

“In recent years, we have seen the creation of BIDs in locations such as Acocks Green, Harborne, Kings Heath, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield and these have resulted in significant investment in those areas.

“A BID for Shirley would see the town centre making similar gains and it is therefore something which the local business community has expressed a strong support for.

“The BID would be business-led and business funded to improve the area.

“The creation of a BID in Shirley would give businesses the power and funding to take action to make significant, targeted and sustained improvements to our town.

“Local businesses have decided what those improvements should be and, through the creation of a BID, would be responsible for ensuring they happen.

“As well as major direct improvements, a BID would also provide access to grantmaking bodies and extra funding opportunities from organisations, such as the council, the chamber of commerce, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the West Midlands Combined Authority.”

To download or read the Shirley BID Business Plan visit: www.shirleybid.co.uk