It's official – Farnham now has a Business Improvement District (BID) after an overwhelming majority of town businesses who voted backed the move to give a portion of their turnover towards town centre improvements.

The turnout was low – with fewer than one in four of those eligible to vote doing so. But of the 100 businesses who returned their ballot papers, an overwhelming 75 voted ‘yes’ to the proposal to set up a business-led organisation, the Farnham BID.

For any BID ballot to be successful, there needs to be a majority of businesses in favour, both in terms of number of votes cast and by rateable value. This condition was met in Farnham, with 81 per cent by ratable value voting ‘yes’.

It came after a month-long ballot in October conducted by Waverley Borough Council on behalf of businesses. 

The Farnham BID will now be in place for a period of five years, over which time it is expected to inject around £1.5 million worth of improvements into the town centre.

Where does Farnham BID's money come from?

According to the Farnham BID website, once projects and services have been agreed by businesses along with how they are going to be delivered and managed, they are costed up and set out in a detailed business plan. The cost to each business is worked out on a pro rata basis. ‘This is called the ‘BID LEVY’. The BID levy is normally paid by the occupiers of a property. In addition, BIDs can draw in other voluntary funding, grants and ‘in kind’ contributions to supplement the BID levy.

This includes £510,000 towards marketing, promotion and events to boost footfall in the town centre, and £370,000 towards creating a ‘safe, clean and welcome’ environment in the town through the appointment of ‘town rangers’.

There will also be £155,000 invested in business support and creating “an active, strong, lobbying and advocacy group”, and £225,000 will be put towards access and travel, improving customer experience of coming into the town and moving around. This includes public transport promotions, ‘tactical car parking’, and more EV charging points.

“We have a bid,” exclaimed BID committee member and town accountant Paul Adams of Branston Adams after the result was announced.

“Exciting times for business – looking forward to a positive future,” he added.

Find out more about the Farnham BID’s plans at

A BID was also voted through in Godalming last week – with 53 of the total 76 votes in favour of the Godalming Business Improvement. This BID will also be in place for five years.

Councillor Paul Follows, leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “As a significant contributor to Business Rates in both Farnham and Godalming, it was important for Waverley Borough Council to lead the way by voting in favour of these new Business Improvement Districts, which will help us to enhance and revitalise our commercial areas. “It has been clear for some time that sufficient financial support is not forthcoming from national government. We are permitted to retain just 5p in every £1 of Business Rates collected in Waverley to help support our local business community, and it simply isn’t enough. “Our only option is to seize the initiative and work together as a local business community. We need proactive schemes, like the introduction of Business Improvement Districts, to protect the economic prosperity of our area and ensure local businesses continue to thrive.” Waverley Borough Council portfolio holder for planning, regeneration and economic development, Councillor Liz Townsend added: “I’m delighted that businesses in Farnham and Godalming have voted in favour of creating Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in their towns.

“These BIDs have real power to enhance their communities and make their towns even more attractive places to live, work and visit. By working together to achieve shared goals, businesses can make the changes that they want to see and contribute to the overall success and wellbeing of an area.

“Each town has its own priorities and unique plans, but both will be looking to enhance their local communities by improving destination marketing, cleanliness, safety and infrastructure. 

“Partnerships like this provide the chance to stimulate economic development, attract additional new investment and boost the local economy. They have already been successful in many different areas across the UK, including Cranleigh, where businesses voted for a BID in June 2023, and I’m really looking forward to the benefits these BIDs will bring to Farnham and Godalming.

“All three BIDs will work together to make our High Streets more prosperous and thriving places to visit.”

For more information on BIDs, what they are, and what they can offer in terms of long term funding for local businesses and their communities visit Business Improvement Districts - GOV.UK (