As part of the wider Imagining Urban Futures research programme, Ian Cook (Northumbria University) and Kevin Ward (University of Manchester) have explored the mobilisation of the Business Improvement District ‘model’.

BID Street Wardens in Newcastle upon Tyne

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council, they have examined how BIDs – a policy that first emerged on a suburban high street of Toronto in the 1960s – has expanded into new contexts. It focuses on a range of places at different scales where BIDs have emerged including the UK (Ward and Cook, 2017), the English cities of Coventry, Plymouth and Reading in the UK (Cook, 2009, 2010) and Milwaukee/Wisconsin in the USA (Ward, 2007, 2010). It has also examined places where the BIDs model has received hostility such as in Sweden (Cook and Ward, 2012).

The research has also explored the role of the media, government and professional bodies (e.g. the Association of Town Centre Management, International Downtown Association), governments and the media in shaping and circulating knowledge about BIDs. Likewise, it has looked at the ways in which people learn about BIDs elsewhere such as attending conferences and study tours (Ward, 2006; Cook, 2008, Cook and Ward, 2012). Finally, the research has also explored the local security operations they engage in (Cook, 2010), and the role of the private sector in BIDs and the motivations behind their involvement/non-involvement (Cook, 2009).

Research Outputs and Downloads


Bryant Park BID in New York City

Ward, K. and Cook, I. R. (2017) Business Improvement Districts in the United Kingdom: Territorialising a ‘global’ model? In Deas, I. and Hincks, S. (eds.) Territorial Policy and Governance: Alternative Paths. London: Routledge, pp. 127-146. [pdf]

Cook, I. R. and Ward, K. (2012) Conferences, informational infrastructures and mobile policies: The process of getting Sweden ‘BID ready’. European Urban and Regional Studies 19 (2): 137-152. [pdf]

Ward, K. (2011) Policies in motion and in place: The case of the Business Improvement Districts. In McCann, E. and Ward, K. (eds.) Mobile Urbanism: Cities and policy-making in a global age. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 71-96.

Cook, I. R. (2010) Policing, partnerships and profits: The operations of Business Improvement Districts and Town Center Management schemes in England. Urban Geography 31 (4): 453-478 [pdf]

McCann, E. and Ward, K. (2010) Relationality/territoriality: Towards a conceptualization of cities in the world. Geoforum 41 (2): 175-184. [pdf]

Ward, K. (2010) Entrepreneurial urbanism and Business Improvement Districts in the State of Wisconsin: A cosmopolitan critique. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100 (5): 1177-1196.

Cook, I. R. (2009) Private sector involvement in urban governance: The case of Business Improvement Districts and Town Centre Management partnerships in England. Geoforum 40 (5): 930-940. [pdf]

Cook, I. R. (2008) Mobilising urban policies: The policy transfer of US Business Improvement Districts to England and Wales. Urban Studies 45 (4): 773-795. [pdf]

Ward, K. (2007) Creating a personality for downtown: Business Improvement Districts in Milwaukee. Urban Geography 28 (8): 781-808.

Ward, K. (2007) Business Improvement Districts: Policy origins, mobile policies and urban liveability. Geography Compass 1 (3): 657-672.

Ward, K. (2006) ‘Policies in motion’, urban management and state restructuring: The trans-local expansion of Business Improvement Districts. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 30 (1): 54-75. [pdf]

Contact Ian Cook (ian.cook [at] or Kevin Ward (kevin.ward [at] for more details on the various projects.