The purpose of the Belsize Village Business Association (BVBA) is primarily to serve our community. The BVBA has an incredible track-record of effective and cost-effective community change including:
- From Oct 2018 to October 2019, the BVBA successfully reversed Belsize Village’s four-year economic decline (2014-18) using innovative social media strategies to drive up footfalls.
- Successfully beautified Belsize Village terrace square from June 3, 2020 onwards by adding volunteer-managed gardening planters and ridding Belsize Village of its multi-decades old rubbish mound.
- Coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown of the summer of 2020, the BVBA launched on July 4, 2020 the Borough of Camden’s first Streatery (communal alfesco dining), the Belsize Village Summer Streatery, which led to an “economic explosion” in Belsize Village, not only saving over 100 hospitality jobs but leading to increased hiring.
- Drastically reducing cigarette butt littering, general littering, fox-induced rubbish leakages and fly-tipping via our Clean Belsize Village initiative.
- Expanding the number of Accredited Living Wage Employers in Belsize Village.
Guided by our overarching principles known as the Three Pillars in public policy, we are are currently undertaking the following projects:
Living Wage Campaign
Belsize Village’s Living Wage Campaign was the original project started by the BVBA on October 4, 2018 and guides its activities. The Living Wage movement started in the early 2000’s by Citizens UK and eventually managed by the Living Wage Foundation with an aim of convincing enterprises, public, private and non-profit to pay their workers a wage in which they could live decently. Within London, this wage became known as the London Living Wage and is updated every November by the Mayor of London. Historically, one of the two primary sponsors of the BVBA, Penrose Care, was Belsize Village’s only Accredited Living Wage Employer since October 2012.
Following the BVBA’s successful economic revitalisation of Belsize Village (which had sustained an economic decline from 2014-2018), the BVBA met via Zoom with the Living Wage Places team on August 19, 2020 via Zoom and commenced a campaign to finally expand the Living Wage movement in Belsize Village beyond Penrose Care.
The second business in Belsize Village was Physio Ed Medical Belsize on August 25, 2020 and the third was Ergotec on August 26, 2020.
Visit Belsize Village Social Media Marketing Campaign
Belsize Village’s social media marketing campaign under the handle @belsizevillage was interlinked with our Living Wage campaign and became the foundational work that has allowed virtually all of our initiatives to be great successes.
The goal, outlined in October 2018, was to use Instagram and Facebook to attract customers in the wider NW3 area into Belsize Village to keep stop businesses from closing and indeed, to help them thrive to the extent they could someday pay their workers the London Living Wage.
You can find us on:
- Instagram: This is our flagship platform and the primary vehicle we used to drive up footfalls in Belsize Village. Our first post on Instagram was on October 8, 2018 and as of September 24, 2020, our Instagram account has over 3,700 followers.
- Twitter: This account was originally setup in October 2012 by podcaster Jonny Gould. On June 23, 2020, the BVBA purchased the account from Mr. Gould to assist with the general promotion of the Belsize Village Summer Streatery.
- TikTok: We joined the hype and posted our first TikTok on February 18, 2020.
When the BVBA started in October 2018, Belsize Village had long lost its event spirit. Historically, the Belsize Festival was held every September from 1973 until 1989.
The spirit began to rekindle with Pivoine Nail Spa’s childrens face painting events on Halloween 2017 and 2018 and when local architecture firm OmniDe, with marketing support from the BVBA, held Belsize Village’s first major event since 1989 on June 19, 2020, the Belsize Village Open Day, where businesses agreed to be open for the public that day so the public could learn about each business. We feel it was a great success and contributed to the surge in community cohesion which had begun with the BVBA’s social media campaigning. The Open Day was followed by a Santa’s Grotto on December 21, 2020 held by TETA’s Lebanese Kitchen.
No event since 1989 has had such a dramatic impact on the Belsize Village life since the Belsize Village Summer Streatery which was organised and is managed by the BVBA, launched on July 4, 2020 and ending September 27, 2020. The event provided alfresco dining on Belsize Village terrace square on what is essentially a piazza. By the 2nd weekend in operation, the Belsize Village Summer Streatery had reached 100% occupancy during certain seatings.
The event led to what has been called an “economic explosion”, not just saving over 100 jobs post the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown but leading to jobs being created! The success garnered Belsize Village’s first ministerial visit on July 30, 2020 when Secretary of State Robert Jenrick visited the event. That same evening marked Belsize Village busiest evening for economic activity at least since 2005 (and thus probably ever) and this was further surpassed on August 11, 2020. Cllr Oliver Cooper had said the event could put Belsize Village on the map and it most certainly has.
Beautification and Gardening
The BVBA’s comprehensive beautification and gardening project commenced on July 3, 2020 as a conjoined component of the Belsize Village Summer Streatery.
These efforts have included:
- On July 3, 2020 Belsize Village terrace square was jet washed at the behest of Nicky Ezer, head of events at Camden Council, which turned the stones a bright orange-ish colour whereas they had been grey/black for at least 10 years. This same day, Volker Highways moved our three public benches from the center of the village square to the borders. Further, on this same day, our community gardening volunteers, led by the amazing Jane Lyons, install eight planters around the village square to provide beautification and security barriers. Further, on this same day, we got the historic rubbish mound that had blighted Belsize Village for 1-3 decades.
- On September 17, 2020, our community volunteers installed two more gardening planters on the lower square for beautification and security purposes.
Prior to the the beautification efforts of the Belsize Village Business Association, Heywoods Estate Agents in 2011 organised hanging flower baskets on the village light poles. This beautification project continues to this day.
Clean Belsize Village
The BVBA’s Clean Belsize Village program started on July 3, 2020 as a conjoined component of the Belsize Village Summer Streatery as 1) it would not have been possible to hold a hospitality event on Belsize Village terrace square if our multi-decades old recurring rubbish mound remained as it smelled, was very unsightly and very unhygienic; and 2) we did not want newcomers to the village to visit and be put off by our historic waste and litter blights. Our successful sub-program to reduce cigarette butt pollution known as “bin the butt” started on July 9, 2020.
The successes of the Clean Belsize Village program have been incredible. As of August 30, 2020, we have:
- Eliminated Belsize Village’s decades-old recurring rubbish mound.
- Turned fox-induced rubbish leakages which used to be a daily blight for many, many years into a rarity.
- Cut daily cigarette butt pollution down by c. 95% since the start of our bin the butt program on July 9, 2020.
- Curbed littering.
- Curbed but not yet eliminated residential fly-tipping.
- Begun removing tin foil stuck to our streets, a legacy of the many years of fox-induced rubbish leakages.
Community Sponsorship of Refugees
The BVBA commenced its project to support refugees via the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship program following a coordinating meeting with civil society organising icon Neil Jameson held on Belsize Village terrace square on August 20, 2020.