GRASSMARKET traders have overwhelmingly backed a plan to transform the area’s image from a stag and hen-do magnet to an upmarket shopping Mecca.
Traders have voted in favour of an innovative scheme which could see more than £600,000 spent on improving the area over the course of the next five years.
A ballot of 73 traders took place with a view to turning the area into a Business Improvement District (BID) – and 59 voted “yes” to support its setup.
Funds will also be made available to employ a rapid response service to target long-standing issues which have blighted the area such as the removal of fly-posting and graffiti, and the cleaning of doorways.
Fawns Reid, chairperson of the Greater Grassmarket BID Steering Group, said: “This is a fantastic result for everyone in the area. Achieving BID status means that we can start putting into practice the objectives of our five-year business plan which is aimed at making the Grassmarket a must-visit destination for locals and visitors alike.”
In creating a BID area, local business owners commit to paying a levy depending on the rateable value of the business.
This creates a long-term financial commitment likely to generate funding from other sources such as VisitScotland and Zero Waste Scotland. She added: “While not all traders have voted in favour of the proposals, we would urge them to come together and consider joining the BID Board of Directors to ensure their voices are heard.”
The news was also welcomed by city councillor Tom Buchanan, convener of the Economic Development Committee, who said: “This is fantastic news for the Grassmarket area and sends out a strong message to businesses in other areas of Edinburgh that BIDs help businesses to collectively enhance trading conditions.
“The ‘yes’ vote will now help to deliver over £600,000 of additional investment over the next five years to the Grassmarket area to be spent on projects led and managed by the business community.” The next stage in the process is the formation of a BID company to oversee the safe delivery of the projects outlined in the business plan.
A BID manager will also be employed for the day-to-day running of the scheme, with projects due to commence next February.
Linda McIntosh, Greater Grassmarket BID project manager, said: “The lion’s share of BID budget is earmarked for marketing, events and promotions..other exciting projects include investing in new technology such as a dedicated website and a mobile app, and offering businesses group procurement opportunities to save them money.”