Colourful cranes dot the skyline towards the city centre from St Mary Redcliffe Church as symbols of the biggest changes the area has seen in decades.
The new Redcliff Quarter development, which incorporates new homes, offices, co-working spaces, a hotel and restaurants, is quickly taking shape just a stone’s throw away from the fast-growing Finzels Reach. Meanwhile, at the far end of Castle Park, work is well underway on the site of the former ambulance station set to host Bristol’s tallest residential tower.
This area stretching just south of the river from the city centre is ripe with exciting opportunities, according to Jo Hawkins, who is leading a project that could generate some £5m to invest back into businesses and the wider public realm over five years.
Proposed and funded by Destination Bristol, the Redcliffe and Temple business improvement district (BID) would aim to enhance the area by harnessing the collective resources from companies and delivering projects voted on and funded by the businesses themselves.
“If BIDs work well, they represent a really strong and effective voice for the area,” explains Jo, speaking to Bristol24/7 in the compact Destination Bristol offices, where she has been working on the lengthy process of putting proposals together and consulting with more than 200 applicable businesses.
“I’m really excited about the opportunities in the area,” continues Jo, who used to be the city centre retail manager before taking on the role of Broadmead BID manager, which she held for ten years, “It will look very different soon so this is the opportune time to help shape it.”
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The vision is for the Redcliffe and Temple areas to become “vibrant, thriving, sustainable, inspirational and welcoming”. BID initiatives could include marketing the area and forging an identity for it, improving the public realm, making it safe and accessible for all and ensuring businesses have an effective voice.
BID development assistant Tom Swithinbank adds that with companies putting increasing emphasis on mental health and sustainability, the project could facilitate collaborative work to achieve shared goals.
The proposed BID area is in close proximity to the city centre and Broadmead BIDs to one side and the Bedminster BID to the other, but Jo says Redcliffe is a unique entity that has different needs and priorities.
The growing commercial area also sits next to neighbourhoods that have high levels of deprivation, yet these streets are not included in the proposed BID area.
Jo tells Bristol24/7 this is simply down to the fact that only businesses with a rateable value of more than £25,000 would pay the BID levy. Despite these restrictions, the BID development manager expects the benefits to stretch across the entire area, including those cut off from the BID map. Although it will be entirely down to the levy payers to decide what projects are implemented and where they cover.
Jo says company bosses are keen to invest in the wider public realm and improve it for all who live and work there.
“The businesses I have spoken to love this area, they have watched it change beyond recognition over the last decade and many are keen to work more closely with their neighbours to ensure that it improves further,” adds Jo.
“This is where a BID could make a real difference by connecting businesses and delivering projects proposed by them for the benefit of the whole area.”
Jo is currently going through the consultation process with all eligible businesses to help refine the proposals before a final prospectus is produced in April 2020. Voting will take place in September 2020.
If the BID is successful at ballot, all eligible businesses, irrespective of how they voted, would have to pay 1.5 per cent of their rateable value towards the BID – although this is capped at £20,000 per year. They would also get a say in the projects implemented by the BID team.
For more information about the proposed Redcliffe and Temple BID contact email@example.com or visit www.redcliffeandtemplebid.co.uk.
Main photo of the Redcliff Quarter development. Photo by Ellie Pipe
Read more: Redcliff Quarter continues to take shape