Clean, Green, Sterile: who’s city is it?

NASA Landsat photo of London. Graphic: Samuel Shaw

In London, there are over 66 Business Improvement Districts and new ones form each year, but little is reported on BIDs; on their relationship with local authorities, or their role within our communities. In this series, we hope to map out the history of their relationships with councils, their investments into policing, and more. This project is a counter-cartography of corporate power in the city, looking at one kind of privately managed space in particular: the Business Improvement District (BID).

BIDs are set up in order to collect levy payments from local businesses within a pre-defined area. The funds raised from this levy are then invested into city services that improve profitability for those businesses without needing to dip into shrinking council budgets. Hundreds of these districts exist across the country and more are established each year because of the value they provide for local government. But with the spending power of councils at a low and councils such as Croydon going bankrupt in the past year, are their consequences to inviting private businesses deeper into the management of public space? 

This series will also examine whether BIDs are a factor in gentrification and if the districts are linked to Public Space Protection Orders, such as the one in Croydon Town Centre, home to one of the larger BIDs in the UK. With Croydon being the stop-and-search capital of south London, is it possible that the BID’s investments into policing and security are linked to a higher number of searches? Follow our series to find out.


Can business run the city? To cut costs, struggling councils have allowed business groups to take partial control of services, policing, and public space

Welcome to Croydon: the Stop and Search Capital of London In the second part of our series we examine policing in Croydon Town Centre.

Debate: How should anti-social behaviour be tackled in town centres A local activist and the CEO of Croydon’s business district give the arguments for and against Public Space Protection Orders as a way to police our public spaces

Decoding the language of BIDs The psychology behind how Business Improvement Districts market themselves

Leave a Reply