MIPIM, the pan-European property event held in Cannes, may be over for another year, but its themes will continue to resonate and shape the housing debate in the UK over the coming year.
The event brings together developers and investors from across the world with those offering development opportunities – many in the UK. It takes place in France, but in my view, MIPIM is one of the most important events in the UK housing calendar. Here are three messages that were clear at this year's event.
1. The rise and rise of UK regions and their local authorities
The main takeaway from MIPIM 2017 was the fact that UK city regions and local authorities really pressed home the message that they are open for business.
London’s message was that it is open for partnerships between public and private sectors to ensure housing is delivered, which was especially well demonstrated by the London boroughs of Havering and Ealing. Both made a positive impression with the extent to which they are active in exploring new approaches to development and forming new partnerships. The vision of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), presented by new chief executive, Eamonn Boylan, was also impressive. These two city regions have a track record of presenting their best face, yet other areas, such as the Midlands through the Midlands Engine organisation, also demonstrated a range of ideas and opportunities – especially on housing and regeneration.
2. Housing providers are exploring opportunities to thrive in the new English housing landscape
The English housing world is changing. It is no longer simply about striking sure-fire Section 106 deals with house builders or participating in large government housing grant programmes. Also, housing providers will want to extend and mix traditional debt with new forms of finance over the coming years, so it is important for housing associations to work with developers and investors to find new ways to continue delivering more homes at the pace required.
Those housing providers which are going to be successful are those which can seek out and exploit opportunities, but without jeopardising their businesses. MIPIM uniquely allows ambitious housing providers access to developers and investors from all over the world, many seeking opportunities such as joint ventures or different forms of finance. It is really the only place where conversations are able to take place on different tenures and different types of investment.
3. There is life after Brexit for UK property
We may be unable to avoid the daily diet of Brexit news in this country, but investors and developers expressed confidence that the UK will remain an attractive place to do business post-Brexit. It is good to see that the UK is making a real effort to attract investors into the country – especially to boost housing supply.
There was a great sense of optimism about the future for the UK and its property market. We will continue to have a great need for housing and new approaches to build it. Crucially, the money also remains available to support this.