Improving partnerships: a new venture for New Sydney Waterfront

New partnership between the UK’s largest operator of BIDs and Australia’s first major Improvement District announced today.

The agreement will see Primera Corporation, the U.K.’s leading operator of Business improvement Districts, partner with the New Sydney Waterfront Company to grow Australia’s leading improvement district on Sydney’s iconic western harbour

An operational team from Primera, to be led on the ground in Sydney by experienced BID executive, Rachael Smith, has been contracted from February 2024, to assist the New Sydney Waterfront Company’s Board take forward their strategic vision for the Western Harbour area and achieve fully operational status in late 2024/early 2025.

Building on the work already achieved since the company was founded in 2021, and recent progress under Chief Executive Jace Tyrrell, the team from Primera will bring know-how from their award-winning projects in the UK, with expertise in placemaking, public realm regeneration, destination marketing and street activations, all of which will be available to the New Sydney Waterfront Company.

Over the last five years, Rachael Smith has held senior BID management roles through Primera for several prominent London BIDs, including Chief Operating Officer for Fleet Street Quarter BID, and leading day-to-day operations and secured positive ballot outcomes for EC BID and Fleet Street Quarter two of the largest BIDs in the UK.

Primera is Britain’s largest operator of business improvement districts, with a portfolio of 12 BIDs in central London, covering some of the U.K.’s most iconic sites. It includes Westminster and Whitehall, the financial centre of the City of London, the historical districts of Bloomsbury and Clerkenwell, the diamond capital of Britain Hatton Garden and the world-renowned Harley Street medical area. Primera’s portfolio account for 35% of BID income in London and 15% in the UK.

The role of improvement districts is to represent, promote and enhance a distinct neighbourhood, focusing on the needs of the business community, which votes it in for a defined term. Financial contributions from eligible businesses are then reinvested in the local area to deliver on its priorities.

Ruth Duston OBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Primera, said: “We are really thrilled to be working with the New Sydney Waterfront Company on this exciting new phase of their development. When I founded Primera 20 years ago, I saw the amazing potential of Improvement Districts to help change places for the better and to build partnerships between the public and private sector to drive improvement and growth.

“Over the last two decades, Primera has been at the forefront of BID development in the UK. I’ve no doubt that our expertise, experience, and great ideas will be of great benefit to Sydney as we work with them to navigate through the legislative process and towards the establishment of a formal Improvement District. The potential is huge, and we are delighted to be part of the process”.

Geoff Parmenter, Chair of the New Sydney Waterfront Company, said: “The Board of the New Sydney Waterfront Company is very excited about the opportunity to bring Rachael’s and Primera’s world-leading expertise to bear on the Western Harbour Improvement District venture at such a pivotal stage of the project’s development. Rachael’s hands-on experience of BID operations and ballots, together with Primera’s two-decades of diverse BID expertise, will bring enormous capability and assurance – not only to the Waterfront BIDCo, but to New South Wales, as we pioneer the Improvement District model in Australia.”

Rachael Smith, incoming BID Director for the New Sydney Waterfront Company, said: “I am very much looking forward to the huge opportunity and challenge that awaits me in Sydney. Every BID and every ballot is unique, and this will be particularly the case in New South Wales, where the design of the Community Improvement District model itself is still being finalised. It will be great to bring some of our international experience to the table, and to work with all the stakeholders to help establish a model that is optimised for New South Wales and for the Sydney Waterfront.”

Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive of the New Sydney Waterfront Company, said: “I have known and worked with Ruth and Rachael for many years in London, and it is enormously reassuring that the Waterfront Company will have such extraordinary capability to guide this next stage of our BID journey. I must reluctantly head back to London, but will remain closely involved as an advisor to the Board, as we work to complete our vision of establishing Australia’s first formal BID. Partnering with Primera will be a great boost towards that goal, and I am looking forward to Rachael and Ruth joining the Waterfront team!”

Notes to editors

About Primera

Primera is a regeneration consultancy providing a wide range of services to the public, private, voluntary, community and partnership sectors. We offer a fully inclusive package of operational and financial management with a highly experienced team of professionals. Founded by Ruth Duston OBE in 2004, Primera now runs 12 central London Business Improvement Districts in some of the UK capital’s most high-profile neighbourhoods, such as Westminster, Whitehall and the City of London.

Primera represents more than 3,000 London businesses, from major tourist attractions and global companies to SMEs and charities, as well as over 1m employees. The Primera BIDs include:

  • Victoria BID
  • Victoria WestminsterBID
  • Whitehall BID
  • Northbank BID
  • Fleet Street Quarter
  • Cheapside Business Alliance
  • Eastern City BID
  • Aldgate Connect
  • Culture Mile BID                     
  • Hatton Garden BID
  • Central District Alliance
  • Harley Street BID

These BIDs generate £20million in levy income from the business in their areas which contribute on an annual basis. Primera has won awards for the urban public-realm schemes it has led, including Strand Aldwych (adjacent to the Australian High Commission in London) and Princes Circus in Holborn.

About New Sydney Waterfront Company

New Sydney Waterfront Company was established in 2021 as the first major BID in Australia in collaboration with businesses across Western Harbour Waterfront Precinct, from Walsh Bay to the Sydney Fish Markets.  Enabled by seed funding provided by the NSW Government and the City of Sydney, and now almost entirely funded by business members, it is well advanced in its pilot of the BID model.

New Sydney Waterfront Company’s vision is to make Sydney’s Western Harbour the world’s best waterfront. We aim to support the NSW Government with a decade of waterfront transformation and maximise the more than $12bn of investment currently programmed across the precinct, offering the best contemporary Sydney experiences in one place, and delivering greater connectivity for the benefit of businesses, residents and visitors.