The Government has cleared the way for Business Improvement Districts in the UK, as regulations laid before Parliament earlier this month come into force.
Local Government minister Nick Raynsford said: 'BID schemes will play an important role in creating healthy local economies. This will encourage local authorities to improve links with their business communities, while businesses themselves will become more involved in decisions affecting their local area.'
Some 22 BID pilots have been preparing the ground before the legal go-ahead, and the first ballots of local businesses could take place as early as April next year.
National BID Pilot project director Jacquie Reilly said: 'Today's announcement heralds new empowerment for businesses in our high streets to take a proactive stance and become involved in how the area outside their premises is managed.
'BIDs can help deliver a cleaner, safer and more welcoming trading environment - changes vital to the regeneration of our town and city centres.'