On Tuesday the 15th March 2016, 23,500 (and those are only the recorded figures) property professionals descended on the Cannes, filling the Palais, bars and restaurants for the annual pilgrimage that is MIPIM.
This leading international property exhibition brings together no less than 39 countries, with city representative stands such as Liverpool, Lyon, Manchester, Montreal, Prague, Tokyo and Warsaw present, alongside regional pavilions, all showcasing their plans for the gathering private and public stakeholders.
Before setting off to the conference it is best not to leave your copy of Private Eye lying around the house for a partner to see when it describes MIPIM as a ‘booze and hooker fest’. We’re sure there was a time, pre-banking crisis, pre-worst recession the world has ever seen and pre-women in top positions, when this may have been a well-deserved description. However, this is 2016. Thank goodness for progress, because things have moved on!
MIPIM is enormous fun but there are far more pressing matters on the agenda; we have sustainable cities to develop, infrastructures to build, regeneration projects to kick start, places for people to live and workspaces to inspire creativity. Crucially this doesn’t only need to happen here in the UK, it needs to happen everywhere, and MIPIM allows visitors to peruse the opportunities a global economy presents as Gill Parker, CEO of BDG architecture + design explains:
‘We are firmly a UK-based practice but have experience with projects across the globe, so to be able to visit the international city stands and understand the emerging cities and countries is vital to the way we grow and innovate as a business and, on a broader scale, as an industry.’
This view is further expounded by David Clements, Managing Director of FUTURE Designs, and MIPIM veteran of 17 years. He explains why the event remains so relevant and crucial for his business:
‘MIPIM captures our marketplace in its entirety, attracting the entire property community – from occupiers to developers, architects and designers and building consultants on a global scale. Europe is always well represented, as is the UAE, which are two key markets for us and to be able to cover two regions in three days is quite something. We exhibit on the fabulous London Stand, which enables further opportunity to meet with our diverse client base’
To get a sense of the diversity, range and span of topics discussed one only needs to open the first few pages of MIPIM News (the show has its own 80-page daily newspaper). The first news items sitting side by side are about the further development of Dubai in its quest to realise its vision for the 21st century as a world-class centre for living, business and tourism, sitting unashamedly next to the latest news from Silvertown – a once ‘no-go’ part of London’s east end where a mixed use project of 7 million sq ft is planned (due for completion in 2018 by The Silvertown Partnership, a JV between First-Base, Chelsfield Properties and Macquaries Capital).
A top property hotspot for 2016 was Poland, accounting for 45% of closed deals in Central and Eastern Europe (including Russia) in 2015, with a record high volume of transactions in the country at a mind boggling €4,18bn, up from €3.1bn in 2014, as reported by Collier International.
Japan was also presenting a strong economic outlook, clearly enjoying an economic boom after many years of austerity, with Tokyo looking forward to hosting the Olympics in 2020.
Turkey – the gateway between East and West – had a record breaking 250 companies taking part this year. Their profile no doubt further boosted by TURKISH CERAMICS, which represents 30 manufacturers, sponsoring the MIPIM Awards 2016.
Closer to home, commercial real estate is having a good run this year and is expected to outperform other assets according to CBRE’s 2016 European Outlook report. Across Europe in 2015 office leasing increased by more than 15%, the best figures since 2010, after the fastest falling vacancy rates of 2007.
London Markets Analysis, a new report from Levy Real Estate and MSCI, illustrated that London is still an incredibly dominant force on the global property stage and this shows no sign of changing, showing the strongest growth in Camden and King’s Cross, with Mayfair remaining the most keenly priced. According to the report, growth in commercial property rents across London fuelled an average total of 18.1% from investments in the UK capital in 2015 – a pretty good payback by anyone’s standards!
It is not all about London of course, with other key cities around the UK putting on impressive showcases of their plans. Birmingham in particular has unlocked the UK’s largest ever speculative office development outside London. M&G Real Estate has agreed to fund the construction of Ballymore’s Three Snowhill, a 39,000 sq m development, in a deal facilitated by the government’s Regeneration Investment Organisation to make the Midlands Britain’s engine for growth.
The excitement around the seismic shift in London’s transport infrastructure did not go unnoticed. The arrival of Crossrail in 2019 and the possibility of Crossrail 2 in 2030, means that London will remain the land of opportunity for investment and construction. Alongside connecting London with 11 new stations, Crossrail presents 280,000 sq ft of office,
retail and residential projects as well as 185,000 sq ft of new and improved public space. The implications for places like Whitechapel are truly remarkable. And if Crossrail 2 happens, the London Borough of Haringey will be the main benefactor, with places such a Tottenham and Wood Green being reinvigorated and reinvented.
Beyond what and where things are happening, various forums addressed ‘how’ we were doing them, amongst the topics being discussed were:
Leading French architectural firm PCA’s Chief Executive Philippe Chiambretti, hailed a third Industrial Revolution, where new technologies were enabling a new ‘lexus’ of thinking amongst developers and occupiers, with globalisation and a digital economy combining to change everything.
An example of this impact is the emergence of crowd funding, which could challenge, disrupt and provide opportunity for the Institutional Investors.
The issues of where and how best to accommodate and design for start-ups, as well as the established companies in the Tech sector, is an enduring theme with businesses in this arena still anticipated to develop and drive much of the business economy. This is not just an issue for London’s Shoreditch but in many other similar neighbourhoods, such as Sentier in Paris.
If the holy grail 10 years ago was ‘Productivity’, there is no doubt that this has been replaced by ‘Wellness’, and the responsibility of employers to actively demonstrate care for their employees’ health and happiness (which of course leads to greater productivity!).
Other topics on the agenda of particular relevance to the workplace sector included creating value in architecture through art and design; improving workplaces and quality of life by intermingling them with housing and R&D premises; co-working and its potential for a high return on creative investment and why the next generation matter in terms of real estate talent.
With Boris Johnson (always a crowd pleaser at MIPIM) notably absent, it was left to Former England footballer Rio Ferdinand to sprinkle some showbiz stardust. Rio was announcing the launch of a new development firm aimed at tackling social housing through a new innovative approach. Named The Legacy Foundation and sitting alongside development partner McLaren, it aims to deliver an integrated, long-term approach to the building of social and key worker housing, alongside the creation of new communities. The Legacy Foundation is a charity set up by Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble, captain of West Ham United, and ex-England International footballer Bobby Zamora.
Never knowingly under-rated at MIPIM are the all important opportunities for networking, whether that is an elegant breakfast at Armani café (hosted by Informare and BDG architecture + design), coffee at the jam-packed Café Roma, lunch on the beach, a cocktail party at one of the glamorous hotels or, if you are particularly fortunate, champagne on a yacht. We need not be modest about this. As Anthony Brown, Sales & Marketing Director of BW, outlines its importance:
‘MIPIM is largely about playing an active part in our industry, from meeting old some old friends and making some new business contacts, it is a vital part of the networking calendar and we all pick up on the issues; there was a distinct note of caution with lots of discussion about the In-Out referendum, the London Mayoral election and the US Presidential election; no sense of crisis but some uncertainties that will all be resolved to some degree before we all return to Cannes next March.’