NJL visits MIPIM UK
As most people in the planning, property and associated industries will know, MIPIM UK is the UK’s largest exhibition and conference for property professionals and took place last week (21-23 October). This blog provides an insight into the event which had 4,500 participants, 600 investors present, representation from 35 cities, and 60+ conferences and networking events, all in a 2,000 sq.m exhibition area, Olympia in London.
The second year of MIPIM UK kicked off with a keynote speech by Lord Maude of Horsham, Minister of State for Trade and Investment. He set the scene for the conference stating the UK has the fastest growing economy in the west and more people working than ever before. With £1 trillion FDI last year and £100 billion of the economy from construction, it is the time for investment in the UK property industry.
Two key themes ran throughout the conference: The Northern Powerhouse agenda and the housing market. The Northern Powerhouse debate was a focus for many of the seminars and there was a strong northern contingent supporting this agenda as both exhibitors and attendees. There was a strong feeling that now is the time to raise the profile of ‘The North’ to attract both British and international investment. This is clearly exemplified by Cheshire and Staffordshire Councils choosing MIPIM UK to launch ‘The Northern Gateway Development Zone’, a vehicle that seeks to broaden the investment associated with The Northern Powerhouse agenda beyond the North’s main cities, to towns and key investment sites across Cheshire and Staffordshire.
The need to increase housing supply across the Country, but in particular in London, was a key topic for debate, with PRS (Private Rented Sector) seen as one solution. The PRS debate is now evolving beyond a pure financial investment focus to include considerations such as how do you create a community in PRS developments? And how will the market evolve to accommodate young families, as occupier needs change? In planning terms, will the PRS model warrant its own Use Class as the market matures? Regarding the latter, the clear rhetoric was that a PRS Use Class would stifle the sector by reducing the flexibility that current exists within Class C3 for the future use of these developments, within what is a relatively immature market.
MIPIM UK certainly brought many of the UK’s key property and investment decision makers under one roof, although there is some work to do before it will have the profile and gravitas of the Cannes event, even at a national level. There was some international interest, particularly from China and this was supported by a well-timed visit from President Xi Jinping to the UK. It must be remembered that it is only MIPIM UK’s second outing and so it will be interesting to see how the event evolves as it establishes itself on the UK property scene.