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Imagining Urban Futures Programme working paper

This working paper is part of the Imagining Urban Futures Programme working paper series

Business Improvement Districts: policy origins, mobile policies, and urban liveability

Kevin Ward


This paper reviews the trans-nationalisation of Business Improvement Districts. It outlines the geographical and ideological origins of this much heralded approach to downtown governance, and the means through which it has found itself in such diverse settings as Cape Town in South Africa, Kruševac in Serbia and Liverpool in the UK. Analysing the emergence of Business Improvement Districts in terms of the external edges of the state and its internal architecture, on the one hand, and, on the other, in the context of discussions around urban liveability, this paper reviews work across geography, planning, political science and sociology. It concludes by arguing that Business Improvement Districts are both interesting in their own right, for what they reveal about contemporary trans-national trends in urban governance, and for what they have to say about wider processes of neo-liberal urbanization.

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