MIPIM UK 2016: North West focus
Brexit may have been firmly under the spotlight at this year’s MIPIM UK exhibition, but as the debate over what the future holds rolled on it didn’t stop the North West from promoting numerous investment opportunities. Move Commercial was there to capture the action throughout the three days.
Words by Natasha Young
Bringing cabinet ministers, private and public sector leaders, property industry insiders and potential investors together under one roof, MIPIM UK returned to London’s Olympia and representatives from across the region seized the opportunity.
Manchester and Liverpool once again joined forces to create a prominent platform in the centre of Olympia’s exhibition space.
Meanwhile the Knowsley delegation held its own at the event for the third year running – bringing more business partners and events than ever – and Lancashire’s nine local authorities pulled together alongside the private sector for its first county-wide presence.
The Northern Gateway Development Zone – a partnership between Cheshire and Warrington local authorities and Stoke-on-Trent – also highlighted the potential for the area in linking the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine as plans for the HS2 connection take shape.
So what were the benefits of the North West’s MIPIM UK presence and how did the region stand out?
The exhibition floor was where each destination had an opportunity to highlight their selling points and key projects to attendees.
It brought a space for the Knowsley Place Board and this year’s expanded team of private sector partners to build on 2015’s work in sharing the ‘Knowsley story’.
As the team once again drew attention to the borough’s potential as a hub for warehousing and logistics – given its one million sq ft of current speculative industrial developments and proximity to Manchester and Liverpool – it hosted a bumper events programme to back up its case.
A drinks reception led by Morley Estates put Knowsley Business Park under the spotlight, and a debate featuring Peel Ports’ head of commercial strategy and planning, Stephen Carr and Andrew Dickman of dbsymmetry focused on the benefits of Liverpool2 for the wider city region.
The regeneration of Prescot town centre was also a focal point of Knowsley’s 2016 presence, with the delegation keen to shout about progressing Shakespeare North plans and Geraud UK’s investment into that area’s retail offer.
“Geraud Markets (UK) Limited partnered with Knowsley Council at MIPIM UK and the event was a resounding success,” says Philip Lamb, managing director of the firm which previously acquired Prescot Shopping Centre and hosted a stand event focusing on town centre partnerships.
According to Lamb the event not only highlighted Geraud’s Knowsley success but also drew interest in the company from further afield.
“We engaged with a number of local authorities with whom we have never previously done business and secured high level follow-up meetings to explore future opportunities,” he adds.
Meanwhile, such was the success of the Liverpool and Manchester stand that it picked up MIPIM UK’s Strategic Exhibitor Award this year.
Led by the private sector, it was also backed by regional leaders including Manchester City Council chief Sir Howard Bernstein, Liverpool City Council chief Ged Fitzgerald, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, Wirral Council leader Phil Davies and Knowsley Council’s leader Andy Moorhead and chief executive Mike Harden.
With development schemes including the ‘Ten Streets’ proposals to breathe new life into Liverpool’s North Docks and a £50m investment into new cruise terminal facilities among those highlighted, Sean Beech, head of Deloitte’s Liverpool office and leader of the city’s MIPIM UK steering group, says: “MIPIM UK presents a brilliant opportunity to showcase Liverpool in all its glory and we enjoyed a very successful expo – as evidenced by the Liverpool and Manchester stand taking MIPIM UK’s coveted Strategic Exhibitor Award.
“We have a fantastic proposition for investors and it’s key that the city region is seen as being open, accessible, and ready to do business.”
Future in focus
Following June’s EU referendum, the nation’s future in the wake of the Brexit vote inevitably became a prime topic of discussion.
With a new government in place and George Osborne no longer on the front bench, as well as Brexit negotiations being at the forefront of UK politics, a debate over the future of the Northern Powerhouse in light of the decision to leave drew insight from North West leaders.
Sir Howard Bernstein, Ged Fitzgerald and Councillor Phil Davies took part in discussions alongside other northern city representatives as part of the event’s main conferencing programme.
The leaders called for government commitment to projects and investment in the region to back up the “Northern Powerhouse rhetoric”.
However, Fitzgerald insisted that the “Northern Powerhouse existed before the Northern Powerhouse on the basis of emphasising rebalance” in the economy, and told delegates that the North’s key cities will continue working towards that goal and taking opportunities regardless of whether or not the government remains focused on the strategy.
Sir Bernstein also called for the skills pipeline to be addressed to enable growth across industries post-Brexit.
“You can’t, on one hand, say you want to reduce economic migration and not recognise there’s a problem with our skills system,” he said.
“We’ve got to have a system that produces the skills and fundamentally we don’t have that at the moment.”
“At MIPIM UK you’ve got all the key players in the local and national government and the property and investment sector in London at that time.”
Fringe at the forefront
Not all of the action took place at Olympia. During the three days, North West representatives also hosted events elsewhere in the capital.
Knowledge Quarter Liverpool took the opportunity to hold its official launch at the Royal College of Physicians’ headquarters near Regents Park, following the announcement earlier this year that the medical institution will be setting up a northern base in the growing Liverpool district.
“At MIPIM UK you’ve got all the key players in the local and national government and the property and investment sector in London at that time, so it’s not just the London investment and occupier market you’re speaking to but the rest of the UK regions and people internationally there too,” says Knowledge Quarter Liverpool chief executive Colin Sinclair, who insists there “couldn’t have been a better time” for the launch.
“We’re now in talks with a number of developers for science, education and health space as well as residential space so there’s significant developer interest and people wanting tours on a daily basis.
“We’ve got hotel sector interest, which is important because we not only want Hope Street Hotel to continue to expand and be successful but also new hotel and conferencing facilities on Paddington Village,” adds Sinclair, who also indicates that a “major player from the US science market” is looking to potentially work with the Knowledge Quarter.
Over on the South Bank, the Shakespeare North Trust also revealed more about its progressing plans for a 350-seat Shakespearean playhouse and education hub in Prescot, which will highlight the town’s historic links with the Bard and boost Knowsley’s cultural offer.
A private dinner at The Swan at The Globe was attended by Knowsley delegates, business and property industry insiders and MP George Howarth, and highlighted the project’s “transformational” potential for Prescot, Knowsley and the wider region.
Guests were also given a glimpse of The Globe’s Sam Wannamaker Theatre to hint at what the new venue could look like inside.
“Shakespeare is a very important part of the Knowsley story and it’s one that I think will be regenerative within that story, particularly in Prescot where we’ve also got Geraud doing its bit,” says Knowsley Place Board chair Edward Perry, who tells Move Commercial that the Shakespeare brand is “beginning to get a lot of attention within the wider city region”.
“The Prescot regeneration is an interesting one to watch because there are so many different elements,” he adds. “It’s very typical of when we go to MIPIM UK in that, although it’s a property event, the Knowsley team sees that it’s not just about one of those elements – it’s about being a great place to work, great to visit, great to invest in and a great place to live in because they all have the same basic needs.”