NJL attends MIPIM UK
Similar to the focus of last year's conference, MIPIM UK 2016 had a strong regional focus in both the stands and seminars. However, this year it wasn’t just the Northern Powerhouse agenda that was the talking point but also the Midlands Engine and cities and counties within these areas vying for investment. This included the Northern Gateway authorities of Cheshire, Warrington, Stoke on Trent and Lancashire sitting under the Northern Powerhouse banner but separately to the city agendas of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield.
A panel discussion on ‘UK cities: Where is regeneration happening and what are the Government’s objectives?’* provided interesting insight. The panel felt that devolution was critical to regeneration outside of London as it allowed a bespoke approach by local authorities who know their areas best and can build on their areas attributes.
Regeneration was not just seen as creating jobs but places that people want to live with good quality housing, well performing schools etc, to attract employees and therefore investment.
Jackie Sandek, provided an interesting perspective on delivering the growth agenda, noting that some areas will put their hands up for growth whilst others don’t want development and so why not simply direct growth to where it is wanted. This will often boost regeneration initiatives.
It was also considered that the traditional approaches adopted by Council’s to facilitating regeneration, through a masterplan are not relevant to the current market which is fast moving and requires flexibility. Rather, today agility of strategy is needed to attract and retain the investment needed to drive investment.
Another hot topic, PRS, was discussed at a panel discussion ‘PRS – is its transformational potential overstated?’**. Legal and General noted that they are taking a long term view of PRS, focussing on regeneration areas with potential for long term value uplift, bringing forward longer leases with customers and designing fit for purpose accommodation from scratch, rather than converting to ensure it meets customer needs. The understanding of PRS in Local Authorities and in particular through the planning system has not moved with the market. Conflicts seem to be arising between strict planning requirements and the constantly evolving PRS models, with issues such as the mix of units (PRS requires more small units), delivering affordable housing (working with an RSL may not be feasible) and the ability to pay Section 106 contributions (it may take time for a scheme to become ‘profitable’).
In terms of the demand for PRS, it was felt that there is a cultural shift whereby young people still aspire to home ownership but accept that they will not achieve this till later in life and choose the lifestyle they want over home ownership. Key things people want from their PRS home is personal security and longer leases, to provide financial security alongside the universal requirement of connectivity and affordability.
All PRS operators/developers felt the market was buoyant and had not been impacted by Brexit.
MIPIM UK continues to be an opportunity for the key issues affecting the property market to be debated and I will look forward to seeing how the discussion will move forwards over the next year.
*Speakers: Sherin Aminossehe of Government Property Unit, Time Johnson of Wolverhampton Council, Stephen Running of Scottish Cities Alliance and Jackie Sandek of UK Regeneration.
** Speakers: Michael Howard of Urban Bubble, Bruce Ritchie of Residential Land, Dan Batterton of Legal and General Property and Michela Hancock of Greystar.