Traders vote 'yes' for new push to improve Cathedral Quarter
BUSINESSES in Derby's Cathedral Quarter have voted to renew the area's Business Improvement District status and continue to have a say in ways to boost its fortunes.
Five years ago, businesses in the area agreed to the Cathedral Quarter becoming a BID, which sees them pay extra on their rates, with the resulting cash used to make improvements to the area.
This year, the quarter's BID status came up for renewal and firms were balloted on whether they wanted the scheme to continue – 72% voted in favour. The turnout was 58%.
Under the BID, businesses pay an extra 1.75% of the rateable value of their premises, with fixed bands for the smaller businesses. This generates around £200,000 a year, which will be used to fund activities and improvements set out in the Cathedral Quarter's next five-year business plan, which starts in March.
It will include measures to improve visitors' experience, promote the area and encourage businesses to invest. These include developing more events in the streets and open spaces, providing better parking and more loyalty schemes to encourage people to make repeat visits.
The BID will also encourage better use of properties and sites in the Cathedral Quarter, which is home to more than 400 businesses, bordered by the inner ring road, Victoria Street, Albert Street and Friar Gate.
James Blick, board chairman of the Cathedral Quarter Company and owner of Finesse Collection, which operates the Cathedral Quarter Hotel in St Mary's Gate, was delighted that businesses had voted in favour.
He said: "Through working together we have already achieved a lot. However, the economic challenges are greater now than they have ever been and we have a lot more work ahead of us."
Thanks to improved branding and promotion of the Cathedral Quarter, the trend of declining footfall, caused mainly by the opening of the Westfield Derby shopping centre in 2007, has been reversed, particularly in Sadler Gate and Iron Gate.
Since 2009, the number of visitors has increased by 11%, bucking the national trend, which shows a 5% decline.
Other improvements that have been made include a dedicated Cathedral Quarter website, profiling its businesses, as well as news about promotions and events.
Two loyalty cards have been introduced for people who work in the area and the public, encouraging people to keep coming back to the Cathedral Quarter.
The Cathedral Quarter also introduced rangers, in branded uniforms, to welcome and help visitors to the area, which now has improved signage.
Martin Langsdale, chairman of the Cathedral Quarter Management Group and a chartered surveyor for Raybould and Son, said: "Business confidence for the future in the Cathedral Quarter is strong."