London Diamond Bourse chief operating officer, Victoria McKay, shares her thoughts on the Hatton Garden BID with Professional Jeweller.
In McKay’s own words…
I hear many in ‘the Garden’ talking about the good old days and their concerns for the future. We’re seeing a great deal of change in Hatton Garden and feel strongly about the evolving landscape of the area. There is no denying that it is facing problems that are deeply affecting local businesses.
Crossrail’s imminent arrival has made the area very attractive to other types of business and there has been an influx in an area that was predominantly London’s historic jewellery district.
This has created testing times for jewellery businesses; escalating rents, disappearing workspaces, increased business rates effective in April 2017 and challenging times in the market. Nothing we can do will bring back the old days as much as we may wish. We must look instead to the future.
I hope by now you are aware that Hatton Garden is due to ballot mid-June for local businesses to decide whether it will become a Business Improvement District (BID).
The BID team recently commissioned a perception analysis survey to establish what all businesses in the Garden – jewellery or otherwise – would like to see a BID do for the area. A BID will turn those wishes into reality because it will raise a 1% levy from business above £35K rateable value. This money will be invested into the area over a 4.5-year period. The threshold for the levy was set particularly taking into account that most SMEs will fall outside being billed for the levy.
A BID will enhance Hatton Garden and provide a better experience for business and leisure visitors.
Something important to note is that Hatton Garden is already sandwiched between two other BID areas — Midtown and Clerkenwell. In plain terms, without a BID the Garden risks being outshone by its neighbours, who will have the means to improve the streets and community around it, leaving Hatton Garden in danger of losing its sparkle completely in comparison.
The BID represents an opportunity for the whole business community in Hatton Garden to have its own voice, and a body to act as custodians for the area. Moreover, the BID is a formal vehicle that will strive to put Hatton Garden back on the map. It will work on improvements to the public realm, which will make it more attractive to visit but also putting on events and promotions to drive footfall.
The BID ballot is due to be sent to businesses mid-June and I hope you will make an informed decision. Personally, I hope voters in the area will vote ‘yes’ to the BID.
The simple truth is that without a Hatton Garden BID the area does not have a unified voice to act in its interests. Without the BID there isn’t a formal organisation to promote local businesses and capture the attention, spend and interest of the extra hundreds of thousands of visitors that will soon travel through nearby Farringdon Station every week.
Let’s not pretend that we don’t know of the threat Hatton Garden faces as a diamond, jewellery and manufacturing district. It’s not the only area in need, but it’s one our industry is intrinsically linked with, and we all have a personal connection to it. A ‘yes’ vote for the BID gives Hatton Garden a fighting chance to retain its history while moving towards a dazzling future.