Business Improvement Districts now number over 150. They offer a real local voice for businesses. Some are working towards neighbourhood plans, although hamstrung by the lack of a real voting mechanism to be able to force through proposals. CLG have published plans to allow property owners to set up BIDs, running in parallel with a BID run by tenants. Disappointingly this will only be possible for the moment in London since the legislative framework was pushed through as part of the Crossrail funding proposals and requires a business rate supplement to be in place.
Despite some progress in giving BIDs a real role in the planning and economic development world there is one area from which BIDs are being excluded. Local communities will benefit from between 15% and 25% of Community Infrastructure Levy being paid to them. There is no provision for any part of this to be paid to BIDs. In many ways BIDs are more democratic and more accountable than the neighbourhood forums to which the community share of CIL will often be payable. Where there is a BID why not allow them to take, say, half of the CIL money raised in the area. That would give local businesses a real incentive to support new development and, probably, a more mature organisation through which to ensure that the infrastructure that CIL promises is actually delivered.