During a 30-year career, Ruth Duston, OBE, OC, MD, Primera Corporation has built a reputation as a leading figure in the BID sector.
She has established several BIDs and partnerships, including in Westminster, the City and Camden, representing thousands of businesses and employees and has leveraged over £80million of private sector funding, becoming the catalyst for generating more than £6billion of further investment across central London. For more information, visit prime-era.co.uk
“Last month the City of London Corporation’s new Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, set out his vision for enhancing the Square Mile’s leisure offer,” Ruth said.
“Destination City is ambitious and cross-cutting – not simply about offering world class activities and venues to appeal to visitors but ensuring that every visitor touch point is considered to deliver the best possible all-round experience.
“This sort of joined-up approach is essential if we want to create a resilient, attractive, and globally competitive Square Mile. The role of the private sector is also vital, and I think we stand on the edge of a new era of public / private collaboration, with businesses standing shoulder to shoulder with policy makers to help shape the City of the future.
“I was pleased to hear the Policy Chairman reference the role that businesses will play through the network of Square Mile Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).
“Earlier this year two new BIDs were established in the Square Mile (Fleet Street Quarter and EC) securing more than £30million of private sector investment over the next five years, adding to the work already being achieved by the Cheapside and Aldgate BIDs, and helping to pave the way for a fifth City BID covering Culture Mile by spring next year.
“Each of the BIDs has a business plan tailored to their area, addressing their unique opportunities and challenges, as identified by the business community. Many of the themes outlined in the Destination City announcement align with the aspirations of the BIDs – the opportunity for cooperation is significant.
“The City of course has a strong tradition of working with businesses, embracing the pioneering spirit and can-do attitude of businesses large and small for hundreds of years.
BIDs work best when both the public and private sectors coalesce around shared goals, working as one team, which is certainly the approach being adopted between the City Corporation and the City BIDs.
“Right across the central activity zone there are exciting examples of what can be achieved when partnership works. From the transformational Strand Aldwych project in Westminster to the Elizabeth Line which opened a few short weeks ago – partnership is an essential component. Through working collaboratively, we can all achieve more, turning collective will into collective action.
“It is no longer enough to be the economic powerhouse that drives the nation’s prosperity. People expect more and we know we can be more. The ESG agenda is now the number one priority issue for our business communities – businesses of course want to be commercially successful but demonstrating a stronger sense of social purpose is not just a nice to have, it is business critical.
“Already much has been achieved by the BIDs across the City, but the best is yet to come. Under the Destination City banner, we can all clearly see the vision for the future and rally behind it.
“We must be bold, ambitious and set stretch targets. We should be a global pioneer in the drive to net zero. We need to push the boundaries when it comes to diversifying the City, tackling bias and supporting disadvantaged communities – the City is already evolving, and should be open and accessible to all. From public spaces to cultural events, excellence is the name of the game.
“I know the power of partnership. In the face of the multiple challenges (and opportunities) of the economic recovery, Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency, there are more reasons than ever to work collectively. Through partnership we can unleash the full potential of both the public and private sectors, securing better commercial outcomes and creating a more welcoming City of London, where prosperity is shared by all. That to me is at the heart of Destination City,” Ruth concluded.
London Festival of Architecture
The four City BIDs are joining the City of London Corporation as proud supporters of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The Square Mile is one of five festival ‘Destinations’, alongside South Westminster, Camden, the Royal Docks and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Throughout the month the BIDs and City Corporation will be exploring this year’s festival theme of ‘act’, with trails, tours, talks, installations and performances, encouraging discovery of the City, attracting workers, visitors and residents. For more details about LFA activity across the City of London, visit londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/destinations/city-of-london and check the BID’s digital channels.
The Mobile Arboretum – Cheapside Business Alliance and Aldgate Connect BID
The Mobile Arboretum is a series of market “carts” which are filled with saplings to create a new home for trees. The barrows will house the trees/saplings over the summer, taking care of them until it is time to move them on to their new homes, helping to see the legacy of a real urban forest at schools and community gardens in and around the neighbourhood.
The installations are inspired by the collective history of the London markets. Both Aldgate and Cheapside have been and still are hubs of activity and trade in London from the medieval produce and poultry markets of Cheapside to the buzzing fabric markets of Petticoat Lane.
Bow Churchyard and Middlesex Street
June 1 – August 31
Case study: Aldgate Connect
The Aldgate Connect BID proudly supports the Aldgate Winter Festival, including its renowned lantern parade and exhibition, which launched in 2017.
Hundreds of large-scale lanterns are paraded through the streets of Aldgate in early December, the product of workshops which involve members of the Aldgate community, businesses, schools, and local artistic talent. It is a firm fixture in the seasonal calendar in Aldgate, and rightly so.
Each year a new theme is adopted and once the parade has passed by the lanterns are exhibited in local businesses during the festive season. Plans are already underway for the 2022 edition of the Winter Festival – watch this space for details of how to get involved in this one-of-a-kind community festival.
Before the Christmas festivities get underway, the Aldgate BID will be celebrating the warmer months with its Summer Sessions – a series of musical pop ups in Aldgate Square throughout June and July. Launching on Make Music Day, on June 21, Aldgate’s Summer Sessions will entertain workers, visitors, and residents during lunchtime music sessions throughout the summer. For more details, visit aldgateconnect.london
Case study: EC BID
The newly established EC BID is supporting Destination City’s commitment to making the City’s public realm even more welcoming.
An Asset Audit carried out by the BID last year identified key areas across the Eastern City, and in collaboration with the City of London, the BID will work to enhance these locations in a range of ways.
From implementing smaller, short-term improvements to more aspirational schemes in places like Fenchurch Street Station and Eastcheap, EC BID will look to create a more attractive and accessible environment. An activation and greening project is already underway for the Eastern City, with plans for a series of on-street interventions, in partnership with the City of London Corporation, approved in May.
Sustainability is at the heart of these plans: the BID will be developing green infrastructure and seating across the footprint, constructed using sustainable materials with a lower carbon impact. A pilot project is set to launch later in the summer, which will see the distinctive new seating placed in a key location.
Together with the City of London Corporation, the EC BID’s plans look to create a sense of identity in the Eastern City, making the area more welcoming to workers, visitors and new audiences. Future plans include a world class programme of seasonal events and the launch of a Next Generation programme, designed to engage and work with Millennials and the Gen Z demographic, delivering a vision that meets the needs of the future City population.
Case study: Fleet Street Quarter
Since launching in April of this year, the new FSQ BID has hit the ground running and is seeking to build on the work the FSQ Partnership delivered before the BID ballot. Following the success of the Lunchtime Streets activity last summer, which saw pop up music performances in Carter Lane – a bit of a hidden gem in the FSQ footprint – the BID marked the Platinum Jubilee this year with the ‘Jubilee Garden Party’ in New Street Square.
Working with local businesses, the event was a celebration of the F&B offer in the area, and an opportunity to engage local workers with live music, crafts and games.
Running in tandem with these cultural events, the FSQ team is taking forward various projects identified in its Area Based Strategy. This was commissioned by the Partnership ahead of the ballot and was published at the beginning of the year. Helping to create a sense of destination across FSQ is a core aspiration of the strategy, which was produced by Publica.
The strategy sets out a clear plan for prioritising investment in public realm projects and curating activities to enhance the area’s character, and crucially, what role the private sector can play in delivery. Long term, transformational projects are recommended, alongside medium and short-term enhancements, with the emphasis on the projects being implementable and able to deliver tangible improvements to the streetscape and visitor experience across the area.
Public realm improvements will create an inviting, varied, and attractive network of neighbourhood streets and open spaces that will soften the character of the area and provide spaces to dwell and attractive pedestrian routes. Activation through creative and cultural activities will bring life back into the area and attract visitors from beyond the area.
Case study: City app and City gift card
Earlier this year, a new app for the City of London launched to showcase the Square Mile to workers and visitors and encourage spending at participating retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. The In the City app enables those who live, work and visit the City to access offers at a range of businesses, find out about attractions and new businesses and sign up to events taking place across the area.
The app is a collective project created and funded by the City’s four BIDs with support from the City of London Corporation. The In the City app is part of a package of support provided by the BIDs designed to assist businesses that have been affected by COVID.
More than 100 businesses and attractions are already on the app, with a mix of independents and big names featured.
The In the City app can be downloaded for free at inthecityapp.com or via the App Store or Google Play.
The app builds on the City Gift Card initiative which launched at the end of 2020 in the immediate COVID recovery period.
Pre-loaded Mastercards of between £5 and £500 are available to buy which can be spent exclusively at Square Mile businesses that are registered as part of the scheme. Visit citygiftcard.london for more information.
A fifth BID
A fifth City BID is being proposed for the Culture Mile, which would build on the work already delivered by the Culture Mile team since it was created in 2017.
Working closely with the founding partners The Barbican, Museum of London, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and LSO, and, of course, the City of London, the new BID will bring together a diverse mix of businesses and support the transformation of Culture Mile into a place that gives each of them the environment and creative edge they need to succeed.
Embedding culture into the future vision of the area is not unique to Culture Mile – it’s important across the Square Mile – but Culture Mile has championed the area’s unique creative enterprise ecosystem, stimulated growth in the local economy and strengthened the area as a place to do business.
The BID will secure the mandate and resources to deliver long term sustainable enhancement across the area creating a place where the value of creativity is shared by everyone.
Eligible businesses will be invited to vote in the BID ballot in early 2023 and following a successful ballot outcome the Culture Mile BID will launch in April next year.
Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: “The City of London is home to four existing BIDs, all representing and enhancing distinct and unique parts of the Square Mile.
“These Business Improvement Districts are playing an integral part to the sustainable recovery of the City. Partnership between the private and public sectors will be a driving force behind our new Destination City initiative.
“Our bold new vision for the future of the Square Mile will ensure it remains a world-leading destination for workers, visitors and residents. It will also enhance the City of London’s attractiveness to talent and will boost the vibrancy of the Square Mile.”
To learn more about the proposed BID, and how to get involved in Culture Mile, please visit culturemile.london/about