A financial model for urban regeneration: what Cardiff could learn from the Victoria Business Improvement District

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Pocket park located outside a bank in Victoria. The little park is well maintained and beautifully planted, and still looked good at the end of November.

With the potential for a Cardiff Business Improvement District, I visited an area of Londonthat has chosen to invest in its own BID to see the impact it can make. The Victoria Business Improvement District (BID) was set up 5 years ago by the local businesses. The majority of businesses voted to add on a small percentage of their rateable value in order to gather ring-fenced funds to pay for the improvement works in Victoria. The aim is to improve Victoria for everyone who works, lives or visits there.

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In a harsh landscape of steel and glass, there is still space for trees. They have been planted lining this staircase leading to a grassed roof for summer lunchtimes.

The project began by identifying opportunities in the locality. These could be areas for greening or improving biodiversity, or available spaces for community projects. I wandered round Victoria and found the examples in the gallery above. (Whilst I am not entirely sure if they are all examples from the business improvement district, they are still good ideas for our capital city.)

Some examples are:

  • the ivy wall outside Victoria Station opposite the Hilton Hotel. The view used to be of a storage area for the station, but has now been shielded from view behind the smart green evergreen ivy wall.
  • an expansive green wall now clothes the once bare wall of a hotel close to Buckingham Palace on a busy interchange in central London. The greenery has been shown to reduce heat loss from the hotel, but it must also be reducing the noise pollution from the road way and filtering the air, reducing pollution levels.
  • increasing biodiversity by providing a more interesting ground cover than simple amenity grassland in a small corner beside Buckingham Palace. The groundcover now contains flowering bulbs and perennials to provide a small pocket of space for bees and insects.
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Having no front garden is no excuse for not having greenery here…

London Victoria BID is a formula that could work well for local business areas in Cardiff, concentrating on the business areas of the city centre, but it could easily be replicated for Roath (City Road, Cwrys Road and Albany Road), Splott (Clifton Street) Canton (Cowbridge Road East) or Pontcanna (Cathedral Road).

Future plans for the Victoria BID area…

Potential for a raingarden in the near future...

Potential for a raingarden in the near future…

The Queen setting a particularly bad example for paving over your front garden. Buckingham Palace is probably the biggest disappointment for this area.

The Queen setting a particularly bad example for paving over your front garden. Buckingham Palace is probably the biggest disappointment for this area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information visit Victoria BID, or see other examples of Business Improvement Districts, such as Paddington BID.

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