Hatton Garden meeting draws crowds and opinion

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More than 200 people attend meet to discuss BID potential in the area.

The British Jewellers’ Association’s (BJA) meeting to discuss the future of Hatton Garden welcomed more than 200 guests from the jewellery industry last night, focusing on the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) for the area, as well as the needs of Hatton Garden businesses and craftspersons.

The meeting was hosted at Etc Venues on Hatton Garden and featured guest speakers Jason Holt of Holts Gems, Jeremy Shapiro of Camden Council and Alistair Subba Row, a senior partner at local chartered surveyors Farebrother. Guests included members of the London Diamond Bourse, Hatton Garden retailers, jewellery designers and goldsmiths working in the area and representatives of the BJA, Camden Council and the City of London authority.

BJA chairman Gary Williams led proceedings, telling those present that their efforts were needed to help revive Hatton Garden and ensure its future as the jewellery quarter for London. Focusing on the potential of creating a BID for Hatton Garden, Williams said: "This is an opportunity for us to pull together and to grow our businesses. Shoppers can go where they like in 2014 and they do, so why do we think they should come to Hatton Garden in the future?"

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The meeting featured a presentation from Alistair Subba Row, who has worked on a number of BID proposals and implementation in central London, and is also chairman of the Camden Business Board. He explained the process and potential of a BID for Hatton Garden, including how it could win seed funding to begin proceedings.

Subba Row explained that the creation of a BID would allow Hatton Garden businesses – not just its jewellers but larger advertising and digital firms in the area, as well as Sky and Tesco – to work closely with Camden Council to deliver enhanced services for the area. Such services can include extra policing after dark, CCTV, Christmas lights and nearby signage to direct people to the street and its environs.

Subba Row forecast that the area could generate about £450,000 a year towards the BID, an amount of which would need to be spent on full-time management of the BID, as well as the additional services it provides. Grants of about £30,000 are available for BIDs within the Greater London Authority, with London mayor Boris Johnson pushing business improvement districts, with the aim of creating 50 before the end of his current tenure.

At present there are 36 BIDs established in Greater London, and several near to Hatton Garden. Possible seed funding from local authorities and local freeholders has also helped to boost the start-up of BIDs in London, with some areas securing up to £100,000 in funding from freeholders alone.

It would take between 18 months to two years to get a potential BID off the ground, with a consultation period created to establish the viability of the BID and whether it would actually answer the needs of Hatton Garden. Residents, business persons and freeholders would have chance to air their views during the consultation. If successful, a BID levy would be applied to all business in the area based on the total rateable value of the area – roughly 1% to 1.5% – on top of business rates.

However, a number of concerns were raised by those present at last night’s meeting, including retailer Daniel Caspi of Davril, who asked how a business plan would be formed if a BID was successful, and who would oversee the creation of this plan.

Some attendees stated that despite being perceived as a open forum, the meeting was clearly trying to push the BID as the only answer to Hatton Garden’s needs, with one attendee stating that she felt like she was being "sold an idea that was being led by just a few people".

One speaker who introduced himself as Jeremy said that he had been manufacturing in Hatton Garden for 31 years and felt that if a BID was created it would be he and his fellow makers behind the scenes that would lose out. "The cheap rented accommodation that we need has been driven up and rising rates will drive small-scale manufacturing out of the Garden," he said. "While it can be argued that a BID ‘drives business upstairs’, my business has no dealings in Hatton Garden; I do more business in Qatar and New York."

One point that was reiterated was the fact that jewellers are not the only businesses in the area. In the past few years in particular there has been growth in the number of media agencies and design companies operating in the Hatton Garden locale, with advertising agency Grey on Hatton Garden, while Sky and Tesco have also made a move into the area, alongside Possible, part of advertising giant WPP Group. It is understood that £100 million has been placed into property investment and development in the Camden area in the last 12 months.

With Crossrail set to open at Farringdon station in 2018 – boosting the north, south, east, west intersection for commuters and tourists – it is forecast that several hundred thousand people will be leaving the station each week, massively impacting potential of investment and footfall in the area.
 

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