Developing the BID
Prior to 2009 there had been no coordinated voice for the business community across Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley. In late 2009, a Town Centre Manager was appointed by Birmingham City Council to work with businesses along the Pershore Road Corridor in Cotteridge and Stirchley and a number of things were achieved, most notably the setting up of Cotteridge Trader’s Association.
When funding for this post finished in 2011, the CTA continued to meet and was joined by businesses from Kings Norton and Bournville as specific issues arose that affected them and for which they needed a voice to represent them. As such, the Lifford Business Association was born.
Being purely represented by volunteer business owners in the area, the LBA was necessarily limited in what it could achieve, but in 2014, it was successful in winning funding from British BIDs, via the BID Loan Development Fund, a DCLG pot to help communities develop BIDs. If the BID is successful at ballot, this loan will be repaid over the first two years of its life.
The loan fund has been used to work with Town Centre Regeneration Company, Revive & Thrive, who, following a competitive tendering process won the contract to work with the LBA to deliver the BID. Their role has been to undertake consultations, develop themes and priorities into projects, liaise with Birmingham City Council and to support the BID ballot.
By this point, surveys had already been carried out among the LBA’s membership of over 200 local businesses which indicated that a BID was, in principle, an appropriate way forward to enable sustainable funding to allow the area to grow and thrive. These surveys also began to set out a framework of priorities for the area.
Creating a BID that covers four distinct centres has meant that the LBA – soon to become the Lifford BID Company – has developed a singular vision for the area whilst acknowledging the following unique traits that each centre has, and which jointly make up the overall flavor of the Lifford business area:
Stirchley is an area with strong local pride, a few “destination” businesses and a developing social enterprise/co-operative hub, it is nonetheless blighted by high vacancy rates, the threat of major supermarket developments and poor cohesion amongst the business community. It has fallen behind neighbouring centres in recent years, but benefits from good public transport links, a strong VISION history and, due to the vacancy levels, being a fairly “blank canvas” for the future.
Cotteridge is a relatively functional centre with a good but declining retail mix and which benefits from exceptional transport links. Car parking is an issue in the centre, as is the lack of a “draw” and a creeping degradation of A1 retail. It too is beginning to fall behind neighbouring centres, but a strong and cohesive resident and business community means that with support it is well placed for the future.
Kings Norton is somewhat limited by its size and lack of inward investment opportunities. It does benefit from a strong “village” feel, with a green, local events and a well-renowned farmer’s market as well as some strong visitor attractions in St Nicolas Place and Kings Norton Church. There are at present a couple of competing potential retail developments which could either benefit the centre or pose it a serious threat.
Bournville’s biggest strength is its association with Cadbury and the Bournville Village Trust. This historic attachment remains strong and there is much potential to further develop visitor numbers and tourism alongside this global brand. It too suffers from being a small centre, not even defined as such in the City Council’s Local Centres Strategy and other documents but will benefit from its close association with the other centres within the Lifford business area