A push for a rapid bus connection to New Street station and plans to smarten up closed-down venues are on the agenda for the second phase of the Business Improvement District on Broad Street.
The Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID) – which was the first of its kind in the city – has submitted its renewal proposal to Birmingham City Council for approval.
If successful, businesses on Broad Street will go to the ballot boxes later this year to decide on whether to extend the scheme, which was voted into existence by companies in the area four years ago. The BID was voted in on a “Brighter, Safer, Cleaner” agenda in May 2005 and since then it has focused on improving the environment and crime rate in the area.
Measures such as introducing street wardens and linking door supervisors with a radio system to improve intelligence have resulted in a fall in the crime levels by 50 per cent.
But despite the BID’s successes, Broad Street still attracts negative publicity about violence among revellers – earlier this month police were called following a stabbing incident involving six men.
And the area has been hit by the downturn in the economy and the emergence of other rival drinking spots throughout the city with several boarded-up venues attracting criticism for giving Broad Street a down-at-heel appearance.
Broad Street manager Mike Olley admitted there were parts of the street which could do with some improvements – particularly the Five Ways end of the street.
“We are conscious of the fact that one end of Broad Street is not too good.
“It’s Solomon Cutler down to O’Neils – that’s where it happens now.
“In the last five years we lost three bars and that’s three bars too many – that’s a sign of the times now.”
Mr Olley said he was looking at ways to dress the empty units and increase the washing down of the empty frontages to make them look more attractive.
He added there were discussions around creating a Birmingham version of Times Square complete with illuminated adverts, but stressed this would have to fit in with the culture of the rest of the city.
“We think there is room for commercial advertising and a bit of glitz and glamour and a bit of entertainment,” he said. “I think we could have some quite contemporary light sculptures, for example.”
BIDS are defined areas where local businesses work together and invest collectively in new projects and services they have prioritised.
More than £1.7 million of BID levy income has been invested during the current Broad Street BID and more than £2?million is expected to be delivered during the second phase.
Following consultations with local businesses, several new areas have been identified for the second stage of the BID – which has been christened BID2.
BID2 will focus on further enhancement of the area, the regeneration and development of Broad Street and how the area connects with the wider city and will put forward what its organisers call an “Enhancing, Connecting and Developing” agenda.
As well as smartening up the empty premises, BID2 will also explore the feasibility of a rapid transport system in the area.
The Broad Street BID team will be working with Birmingham City Council and the Westside partnership, which comprises 11 private sector developers, to look at options for a rapid bus system from New Street station that would run in its own priority lanes.
Mr Olley said: “It’s a hybrid between a bus and a tram. It’s a very eco-friendly vehicle.”
Gary Taylor, of Brindleyplace developer Argent, who chairs the Broad Street BID and the Westside developers’ group said: “The BID is committed to driving further investment into this area of the city and having a reliable and efficient mode of public transport is absolutely vital to achieving this.”