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Firms back business plan to revitalise Sauchiehall Street

BUSINESSES in one of Scotland's most famous shopping streets have voted to transform it into a leading entertainment destination.

READY FOR CHANGE: The non-pedestrian area of Sauchiehall Street will be upgraded.
READY FOR CHANGE: The non-pedestrian area of Sauchiehall Street will be upgraded.

The move comes after pubs, clubs, restaurants and arts venues on the non-pedestrianised section of Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow were balloted on setting up a Business Improvement District (BID).

The street is home to high-profile venues such as the 02 ABC and The Garage nightclub.

The scheme requires businesses to contribute the equivalent of 1% of their rateable values into a fund to improve the area.

Almost 60% of the 63 businesses affected voted in the ballot, with 92% of those in favour. Legislation needed a turnout of only 25%.

Under the rules, firms that abstained or voted against the plan will still have to pay their share of the cash, bringing in about £180,000 in five years.

For the 02 ABC annual contributions would be around £1335 while The Garage would have to pay an estimated £1040.

The city's first such scheme will focus on the section of the street from Rose Street and Blythswood Street to Charing Cross.

It aims to substantially increase the number of overseas and domestic visitors through high-profile marketing, a programme of events and by ensuring Sauchiehall Street is a cleaner, safer and inviting environment.

The scheme will come into effect next April.

Brian Fulton, BID steering group chairman and director of CPL Entertainment, which owns The Garage, said: "I could not be more pleased that businesses have supported the project's ambitions and voted in favour.

"Every big and successful city in the world has streets that are synonymous with entertainment and that is what Sauchiehall Street will become thanks to this decision.

"It was a famous place name in the past and it will be that again.

"The city centre entertainment sector is crucial to the overall success and vitality of Glasgow, a key factor for tourists coming here and for students deciding where to attend college or university."

Glasgow Chamber Of Commerce worked closely with businesses to develop the proposal.

Chief executive Stuart Patrick said: "It is great news. The Business Improvement District will give this key area a greater degree of attention. This is the first successful one in Glasgow and it could now become a catalyst for more in other areas."

City council leader Gordon Matheson added: "It's very welcome that businesses are working together to enhance our reputation as an entertainment destination.

"We look forward to working with businesses and residents to continue to develop the city centre a 'must visit' destination and as something Glaswegians can continue to be proud of."

It is hoped other firms will be encouraged to move into and invest in the area due to its new status.

The development came as it emerged that the Scottish Government wants to increase the number of Business Improvement Districts in Scotland from 19 to 50 by the end of 2014 and 150 by 2020.

The first national survey of the districts in Scotland shows that in its five years it has managed to leverage more than £16 million of additional investment, over and above the £17m contributed in levy collection, through a combination of public and private capital.

This is expected to rise significantly over the next five years as further developing BIDs come into operation, whilst also adding to the 52 directly employed posts already created, and the estimated 220 new jobs that result from annual project spend.

A BIDs spokesman said: "Dynamic partnership working between local business and councils, and an increasing community role, has led to the districts all across Scotland delivering area improvement agendas.

"This has been achieved through a range of projects that deliver additionality; introducing innovative business benefits; and an increasing focus on a range of projects impacting on education, employment, cultural development, the green agenda and a safer and stronger Scotland."

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