An integral part of the modernization ethos of contemporary governmental priorities in the UK is the interest provoked by the evidence-based policy movement. This is primarily influenced by concerns with establishing and sharing 'what works'. It also resonates with a parallel development in public sector policy and practice which explicitly incorporates theories of learning as part of the zeitgeist of the 'Learning Age'. This article considers the rhetoric and practice around the generation of policy learning and research-practice evidence with respect to the experiences of Business Improvement Districts in the UK by contrasting two modes of empirical research based on observation and experiential learning. It contrasts the dissemination practices with respect to the generation of evidence and what this means for the development of urban policy practices.