BIDs: an important place management approach

Our new Special Interest Group on BIDs is now operational. We have set it up following an invitation from a group of leading BIDs in England.

In the last few months, we have had extensive discussions with BIDs, BID levy payers, government at various levels, as well as suppliers and consultants to the BID industry, and we have now launched the BID Special Interest Group. Anyone who is engaged with BIDs is welcome to join it and share with others in the development of the concept and the professionalisation of the industry.

We have also now set up a new BIDs Alliance. Membership of which is open exclusively to currently operating BIDs. All members of the BIDs Alliance will also be members of the BIDs Special Interest Group.

What will the new BIDs Special Interest Group do?

From the initial establishment of Business Improvement Areas in Canada almost 50 years ago, what we call Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have become an important, accepted and increasingly adopted part of place management across many countries. BIDs now operate in urban settlements on every continent. In the UK, they have developed from a pilot concept to one that is found in almost 300 locations in less than 15 years.

For those new to BIDs, they are a locally controlled initiative that is set up with business support and funding to make improvements to the area in question. In the UK, as in many other locations, this requires a ballot of businesses and should there be a majority vote in favour, then the new levy on businesses applies to all within that area, whether they initially supported the concept or not. Different models exist in different jurisdictions but there is a great deal of commonality between the approaches adopted. BIDs exist in the UK in town and city centres, commercial areas, business parks, industrial estates and tourism areas. In other parts of the world similar models cover neighbourhoods and residential districts.

Given the rapid spread of BIDs, it is perhaps only right that questions are now being asked about how they will develop over the next decade or so. These questions are coming from businesses who pay for BIDs, from government at all levels, and, most significantly, from BIDs themselves:

  • How can BIDs best demonstrate the value for money they offer businesses and other levy payers?
  • How can BIDs demonstrate their relevance and importance to local government so that they are seen as valued and core partners in local policy making and action?
  • Can BIDs be an effective partnership mechanism for community and public/private initiatives that would bring new resources and funding to an area?
  • Can major corporates be engaged in supporting BIDs and potentially bringing investment?
  • What opportunities are there for BIDs to work together to realise their leading role in tackling local problems with global reach?
  • How should BIDs adapt to the changing environment in which they operate so they remain effective, valued and trusted?

Great effort has been put into establishing and growing the concept of BIDs, but, during this time much has changed, not least the dramatic evolution of retailing in town and city centres where the majority of BIDs operate. Other significant technological, societal, environmental and political changes are also impacting on the places that BIDs operate, as well as impacting upon the economy, the labour market and national security.

The Institute of Place Management has committed to working with BIDs and the wider BID industry to:

  • Provide a trusted and authoritative voice for BIDs which will develop understanding of their role and significance.
  • Engage with key stakeholders, particularly national government, local government, and businesses who operate in multiple locations
  • Support and accredit BIDs to ensure minimum consistent standards, accountability, transparency, and good governance.
  • Advance the innovation, adoption or quality of products and services that can improve BID performance.

This new approach arose from a report that was commissioned by a group of some 27 BIDs from specialist consultants Rocket Science, who surveyed more than 100 operational BIDs in England. You can read the Rocket Science report here. You can also read the Institute submission that was originally made in response to this report but this has been added to by subsequent discussions.

As part of the work of the SIG, we are looking for commentary and input on issues relating to BIDs. Follow the highlighted link to read our first such submission on the future for BIDs by Richard Guiney FIPM, who is CEO of DublinTown, one of Europe's largest BIDs. We would welcome comments or other submissions by email to


How do I become part of this?

Though much of the work we do with BIDs will be public at some point, if you wish to be part of the development and the network then you need to join us.

If you are already a member of the Institute of Place Management, then simply email Simon Quin and we will give you access in the Member area to the BIDs SIG. You can be a member of more than SIG at once, so joining the BIDs SIG will not restrict your access to other Special Interest Groups.

If you are BID who is looking to join us, then follow this link to see how that can happen or complete this application form to start your membership application

If you are not currently a member of the Institute, nor a currently operating BID, then you can still join us by following this link.

We very much look forward to working with you and helping achieving the full potential of BIDs in place management.


Simon Quin, Acting BIDs lead.

Photos are taken by the Institute of Place Management, our members or are sourced from open access sites. Thanks to Manor Royal BID for the photo used with News and Events.