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How we supported Manor Royal BID to showcase its sustainability ambitions and get buy-in from its businesses
The challenge: supporting Manor Royal to showcase its sustainability ambitions
Manor Royal Business District is one of the biggest business parks in Southeast England. What started as a traditional manufacturing base and place of skilled employment for 8,500 local people, has grown into a 540-acre home for 30,000 jobs and over 700 businesses, from large brands to local enterprises across a variety of sectors.
In 2013, the Manor Royal Business Improvement District (BID) was created to run and maintain projects and services as well as support the businesses that reside in the business park. BIDs run for a maximum of five years and, at the end of this period, businesses must vote in favour of whether they want the BID to continue running or close it altogether.
Manor Royal BID was preparing for the upcoming vote of its next five-year cycle in 2023 and it needed buy-in from its local business members.
In the lead-up to the vote, Manor Royal surveyed its business members to identify which areas they considered a priority. With sustainability rising higher up the agenda, it appointed Bioregional to develop a practical plan that could support Manor Royal to becoming a more sustainable business park and show its members how they could work together to achieve that vision.
How we helped: developing a sustainability strategy and action plan with key stakeholders
Using our One Planet Living framework, we conducted a gap analysis to establish what Manor Royal was currently doing, how it was performing and potential opportunities. As part of this, we conducted interviews with the local businesses as well as the Manor Royal BID team.
We hosted workshops with key stakeholders that helped to inform an overarching sustainability strategy covering the next bid term (2023-2028). It is structured around four key pillars: sustainable environment and operations, better health and wellbeing, active and sustainable transport, and future skills and community engagement.
We then developed an action plan structured around those four pillars, working with Manor Royal to set short- and long-term commitments and actions related to these areas.
While a BID does have a level of power and influence, there are some areas where this is limited. Manor Royal wanted to ensure all commitments were realistic and actionable, so we split both the action plan and strategy into three levels of action so it could see the areas where it could have the biggest impact:
- lead – what Manor Royal could lead on itself,
- enable – how it can support and advise its businesses to act,
- promote and influence – how it can advocate for and raise awareness to inspire action.
A strategic priority we helped to identify was supporting Manor Royal’s transition to a net-zero built environment in response to member businesses highlighting renewable energy generation as a key area for action. The BID committed to lead on finding collaborative energy initiatives and forums that would help facilitate this. It also committed to establishing a dedicated net-zero forum that convenes built environment professionals and key stakeholders to advocate for green building design to reshape planning policies that affect Manor Royal.
Over the past 10 years, the BID has been instrumental in delivering wide-ranging changes all across Manor Royal for the businesses that trade here and the people that work and visit here. Our Business Plan is the most far reaching yet, providing a route map for a better, greener and more attractive place.Steve Sawyer, Executive Director of Manor Royal Business District
The impact: a comprehensive sustainability strategy and action plan that provides a roadmap to a more sustainable Manor Royal
The gap analysis, sustainability strategy, and action plan helped Manor Royal assess its current performance, identify new opportunities, and establish tangible actions it can take to help achieve its mission of making Manor Royal and its companies more sustainable and operate within the means of our one planet.
Our work formed part of Manor Royal BID’s business plan for its next bid cycle, under a new ‘Sustain and renew’ objective it added to sharpen its focus on sustainability. This business plan outlines the BID’s overall objectives ('promote and influence’, ‘trade and save’, ‘infrastructure and facilities’ and ‘manage and maintain’, as well as the sustainability commitments we helped it to develop) and the steps it will take to achieve these.
Manor Royal BID also produced its “most ambitious” Projects Pack to accompany its business plan, which highlights a wide range of proposed projects it can deliver across the term to support its objectives. The fifth section explores the actions it can take to create a more sustainable Business District and leans on the recommendations from the sustainability strategy and action plan.
For example, to act on members' concerns around renewable energy generation, the BID has now established Re-Energise Manor Royal, a Local Energy Community working with and for businesses to help them reduce energy costs, carbon emissions, and move towards net zero. Manor Royal BID has also partnered with an energy consultancy to further support its businesses to manage energy costs and reduce consumption. Other proposed initiatives include enhancing biodiversity through the creation of green corridors and stepping stones, which the BID is exploring alongside partners such as the Sussex Wildlife Trust; identifying where sustainable drainage systems like permeable paving, rain gardens, and swales can be implemented to manage surface water; and developing a district-wide volunteering programme to support the management of parks and open spaces, bringing a sense of ownership, community and improving the skills base of local people.
As a result of its strong, comprehensive plan and vision, Manor Royal was successful in winning the vote for 2023-2028.
What is a BID?
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a defined commercial area in which businesses agree to make an annual financial contribution in the form of a BID levy to fund projects and services within the district. Local businesses vote to elect a body (around every five years) to help improve their trading environment, according to what those businesses want and are prepared to pay for.
After each five-year period, businesses must vote again to either keep the BID going or close the BID altogether.