ILKLEY has launched its plan to future proof the town.

People gathered on Tuesday evening to hear the board of Ilkley Business Improvement District outline its proposed five year business plan.

The event, held at The Ticket Office, took place in front of almost 80 people who had registered to attend. Ilkley business owners and potential BID (Business Improvement District) levy payers heard three members of the BID Development Board outline the Ilkley BID proposal, talk about BID benefits and challenges and guests had the opportunity to ask questions.

Mark Heppinstall is the recently elected BID Development Board Chairman and also Senior Solicitor at Ilkley’s Stowe Family Law Solicitors. Mark introduced the background to BIDs and discussed the national and local picture of BIDs, which started in 2002 and have now grown to over 300 in the UK. Mark explained that BIDS are: “A powerful tool to give control back to local businesses and enable the business community to improve local trading conditions. There is no limit on what projects or services can be provided.”

Helen Rhodes is currently acting Ilkley BID Development Manager and discussed how the consultation process has led to the four key areas that the Ilkley BID will deliver improvements on which are: Marketing and Promotion of the Town; One Voice for Business; Maintaining Ilkley as an Attractive Place; and Support for Business.

Helen described the BID Business Plan as a “blueprint to future-proof Ilkley” and discussed a range of ideas which the BID will actively work on, on behalf of levy payers, including parking, recycling facilities, accessibility, events and marketing initiatives and plans for bulk purchasing initiatives to bring business costs down.

Emma Lishman from Lishman’s of Ilkley who is Vice Chair of the Development Board concluded the presentation on behalf of the group explaining why she is backing the project.

“We can’t work miracles, we can’t change the past but we can have an impact on Ilkley’s future and the businesses within it with our one voice," she said.

Kate Burnett was a guest speaker attending from Otley BID and discussed how a BID has benefitted Otley and how businesses were making the events and BID decisions work for them. Kate listed a number of initiatives which had been implemented on behalf of Otley BID members.

Although the success of the Ilkley BID is by vote which opens on March 1, with votes counted and result announced on March 29, initial feedback gathered from attendees at the launch was positive. Sarah Lyles from award-winning ladies retailer Attic said: “Ilkley is full of passionate people and we are a community which is, quite rightly, proud of our town.

"It’s important we are the decision makers for the future of Ilkley and how we want it to succeed. From what I’ve learned tonight, having an Ilkley BID will ensure we are making our own decisions which work for our town.”

The business plan is now available to view on