Kings Heath is a suburb of Birmingham with its own distinct character. Situated four miles south of the city centre, Kings Heath was first established as an independent village in the early 1800s when it became a fashionable place for wealthy manufacturers and businessmen to live. The introduction of the railway in 1840 further fuelled development, and by 1900 it was a thriving town centre.
The village has since been absorbed by the City of Birmingham and is now the third busiest shopping centre in the city.
The Kings Heath Business Improvement District (KHBID) was set up in 2008 as a result of 300 businesses getting together and voting to set up a local BID. BIDs are business-led and funded organisations which work to develop and improve commercial areas. As such, they are an important part of their communities, a fact which has been recognised within the national Britain in Bloom competition which now has a category especially for BIDs.
The Kings Heath BID was one of the first in Birmingham. Local businesses pay a levy into the central fund which pays for initiatives such as Christmas lights, security on the High Street and a Storenet radio link system to help combat shoplifting. KHBID also help fund events to market and raise the profile of the area, including an annual street festival, Easter egg hunt and photography competition.
As part of their commitment to maintaining and enhancing the environment, KHBID works with businesses and residents to keep the area litter and graffiti-free. It also supports initiatives around floral enhancement which has involved using Amberol’s self-watering planters. All works have been funded by the BID levy in addition to recently received income from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) granted to further enhance the high street.
KHBID’s Clean & Green Committee first came across Amberol during the Heart of England in Bloom awards ceremony in Burton-on-Trent in 2009 and have been using the company’s self-watering planters around the region since then.
Jonathan Jaffa, a director of KHBID explains why they opted to go with Amberol. “The self-watering planters had many features that we liked, such as the element of sustainability; the black planters are all made from recycled plastic. We like the design of the planters and the fact that they are self-watering. The products are durable, and the price is right. We are also very happy to be supporting a British manufacturer.”
The containers used include Metre Square Planters, Parade Planters, Stone Troughs and a Giant Precinct Planter which are situated at various locations throughout the central shopping area. Many commercial centres have found that floral enhancement is a relatively simple way of making an area look more attractive, encouraging people to visit and stay more often and for longer.
Like many Amberol customers, KHBID particularly value the planters’ self-watering facility which reduces maintenance costs at the same time as conserving water. Jonathan continues: “The planters are an excellent design concept. The reservoir mechanism allows for substantially reduced watering duty which decreases the time and effort our volunteers have to allot so they can spend more time keeping the plants well-tended.”
KHBID also feel that sustainability is a key factor. “With climate change and pressures on business costs this gives us a sound value-for-money and sustainability case when encouraging local firms to invest in floral enhancement in our area,” adds Jonathan.
The response to the floral enhancement has been positive. Although the BID is yet to carry out specific research, Jonathan reports that feedback has been good. “Anecdotal evidence from our volunteer team suggests that the floral enhancement is well received by both businesses and residents,” he comments.
Jonathan summarises the advantages of using Amberol’s self-watering planters thus. “The planters are solidly made, in Britain, using recycled materials. They can be recycled at end of their long lifespan – yet are still stylish in design with a wide range of different styles suitable for various areas of our town centre. We find the planters to be reasonably priced, easy to transport to site and simple to clean if tagged.”
Amberol’s customer service also receives praise. Jonathan comments: “Dealing with Amberol has been a pleasure. The team has answered all our enquiries politely, efficiently and with excellent product-knowledge. Purchase orders are dealt with in a timely manner, allowing us to speedily and effectively organise our own team of planter handlers.”
On behalf of KHBID, Jonathan would be happy to recommend Amberol and there are currently plans to expand the number of planters with a further £2,000 -3,000 worth of planters on order for the next exciting phase of floral enhancement.
For more information about Amberol’s self-watering planters, call 01773 830 930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.