What is a Business Improvement District (BID)?

A Business Improvement District is a private sector led management organisation for a precisely defined geographical area, where business rate payers have identified projects and services that will have a positive impact on their trading environment. Businesses within the area vote to invest collectively in delivering these improvements which are wholly additional to those already delivered by local, statutory bodies.

Once a Business Improvement District has been established all businesses contribute BID Levy based on the rateable value of their premises (hereditaments) to ensure fairness and equity. Business Improvement Districts have a maximum duration of five years.

What is The Plymouth Waterfront Partnership (PWP)?

The Plymouth Waterfront Partnership (PWP) is responsible for delivering the Waterfront Business Improvement District. PWP is an independent, not for profit, company limited by guarantee, with a Board of Directors drawn from the Waterfront. PWP will operate within a strict mandate and deliver the projects laid out in the final Waterfront Business Plan. These projects have been identified as priorities by Waterfront businesses.

PWP will have a Board of Directors directly accountable to Waterfront BID Levy contributors for:

  • Upholding and Promoting the BID's vision and objectives
  • Effective and efficient delivery of the agreed projects and services
  • Promoting the conditions necessary to secure the active and continued support of business members and other partner organisations.
  • Consulting on renewal of the BID in the last year of its initial term and bringing forward a BID Renewal Proposal as appropriate.
  • Every levy paying business and other oganisations making annual financial contributions will be members of the company and eligible to vote at general meetings.

The Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Board

The Board of Directors will be led by a private sector chairperson and consist of elected and nominated Directors, comprising a majority of representatives from the Waterfront business community and supported by nominated representatives of key stakeholder organisations.

Please click here to view details of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Board Members

What Are the Key Points of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership BID?

  • A five year, £6.2 million investment proposal for Plymouth’s Waterfront.
  • Designed to give businesses control of their trading environment, improve profitability and raise the Waterfront’s profile as a UK destination.
  • Aims to increase visitor numbers and annual visitor spend - up 25 per cent (£63 million) by 2020.
  • Plymouth Waterfront Partnership (PWP) will manage the BID and has drawn up the Waterfront Business Plan in consultation with Waterfront businesses.
  • BID Projects include regional / national marketing, new events and environmental improvements.
  • A third of businesses would contribute less than £100 a year through a BID Levy and half would contribute between £100 and £500. Average weekly business cost is £5.97.
  • For every every £1 contributed by Waterfront businesses a further £2 (£2.4 million) will be targeted in new match funding (includes £673,000 contribution from Plymouth City Council).
  • On top of this, Plymouth City Council will ring-fence £2.77 million for services in the Waterfront area for the five year BID.
  • 24 contractual agreements with the Council will ensure agreed standards are maintained.
  • 100 per cent of all cash generated through the BID Levy will be spent on new investment projects.
  • Match funding and service level agreements are conditional on the BID.
  • Businesses will vote on the Business Plan and setting up a Waterfront BID in a confidential postal ballot during February 2012.

What is the Cost to My Business?

Eligible businesses in the Waterfront area will be required to contrubte an annual Levy payment, based on the rateable value of the premises that your business occupies. The annual BID Levy is based on 1.5% of your business property's rateable value (RV).

So, for example if your RV is:

  • £3,700 you will pay £55.50 per year
  • £15,000 you will pay £225 per year
  • £30,000 you will pay £450 per year
  • £60,000 you will pay £900 per year
  • £140,000 you will pay £2,100 per year
  • £300,000 you will pay £4,500 per year

Is this another tax on my business?

No! Your business rates go direct to Central Government. Your BID levy is passed entirely to PWP for investment in key projects and services, identified by local businesses, for your local area.

Why Doesn't the City Council Pay for Everything?

The City Council already contributes significantly to the Waterfront area. Through the Waterfront Business Improvement District the City Council will be held accountable to the business community and required to maintain their existing level of service. Business Improvement District projects will be entirely additional to existing City Council services.

Waterfront BID Business Plan objectives

The Waterfront Business Improvement District will focus on business priorities of increasing visitor numbers, customer spend and commercial success through:

Providing a strong business voice to lobby and influence for future investment and public realm improvements for the Waterfront.

Regional and national campaigns and more events linked to local businesses, to attract new customers and increase loyalty, whilst radically improving visitor signage and information.

Operational management
Tough contracts will hold the City Council and all area service providers to account for the standard of existing cleansing, maintenance and other services. BID investment will only be used to pay for additional services prioritised by businesses.

Attracting significant match funding in addition to contributions from businesses for expenditure within the Waterfront.

Value for Money

The Waterfront Business Plan and the projects within it are the result of extensive consultation with Waterfront businesses on what they would want from a successful creation of a Business Improvement District, and how much they are willing to invest towards improving their trading area.

All eligible businesses within the proposed Waterfront boundary area will be required to contribute towards the BID through a Levy. Potentially, across five years, at a Levy rate of 1.5% of Waterfront businesses' rateable values, a projected £1,025,000 investment into business defined projects could be achieved.

In addition, the PWP will secure match funding which could create a 5:1 return on investment, growing project expenditure from £1 million to an estimated £6.2 million:

The average business would pay a BID levy of just £210 per annum (£4 per week) – but could get back more than £1,000 annually in direct member benefits, in addition to the wider benefits of Business Improvement District improvements within the Waterfront area.

You can download the Waterfront business plan and other associated documents here.


The Waterfront Business Improvement District has now been in operation for Three years.


Our three year review document details progress on outstanding projects and success to date.


Click on the image above to view the document



This Waterfront Business Improvement District
Business Plan has been produced by PWP following many months of detailed work and consultation with
businesses across the Waterfront area.

The Waterfront Business Improvement District (Waterfront BID2 aims to continue to transform the Waterfront’s profile and your business profitability over the long term.


Click on the image above to view your BID2 business plan






BID1 Business Plan
BID1 Boundary Map

Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Ltd. Registered in England & Wales, No 7303310. Salt Quay House 4 North East Quay, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, PL4 0BN