Day three of Mipim started with the British Property Federation Investor Breakfast at the Carlton hotel. We heard from Landsec chief executive Rob Noel, Grainger chief executive Helen Gordon, Gavin Winbanks from the Department for International Trade and Gerry Hughes, managing director for UK and global consultancy at Avison Young on investment in the UK. 

Susan Freeman

Hughes stressed the need for leadership and collaboration between the public and private sector, a recurring theme of this year’s conference. I’d second that! Gordon gave an interesting statistic in that apparently Manchester has a 54% graduate retention rate and this is partly because of the strong private rented sector. From the audience, Neil Sinclair of Palace Capital stressed the need to educate investors about opportunities in the regions. Winbanks responded to confirm that this was very much the DIT’s story and that it encourages overseas investors to consider the regions. All very encouraging, although the stormy winds on the Croisette served as a reminder of the ongoing Brexit problems back home.

I had to miss two other breakfasts – huge apologies to the hosts – to make it to the London Stand in time for the collaboration-themed panel I was chairing. There were already snaking queues to get through security and into the Palais so it was just as well I had, uncharacteristically, allowed enough time. 

 En route I encountered JLL’s Guy Grainger who was just about to start his proptech session with Mihir Shah, co-chief executive of JLL Spark, which sadly coincided with mine. My panel subject was ‘Shared visions and collaborative delivery’. My panellists were Sadie Morgan, director of dRMM and commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commission; Sean Ellis, executive director, Berkeley Group; Caroline Harper, chief planner, Be First; Lucy Homer, executive general manager, design and technical, Lendlease; Ros Morgan, chief executive, Heart of London Business Alliance; and Amy Hazlehurst, head of customer success, VU.CITY. In the limited time available, they each gave their own personal take on the need for and benefit of collaborative working. They provided some fascinating and very diverse experiences of using collaboration strategically.


Source: Shutterstock/Silvan Bachmann

I heard part of the next panel on creating vibrant mixed-use communities, which included Liz Peace and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia and was chaired by Property Week editor Liz Hamson. As I was collecting my paraphernalia to leave, I missed the question but heard Hamson describing a reply given by Peace as a skilful political answer as she didn’t say yes or no! I made a mental note to ask Peace for some pointers on how to achieve this.

Next up was the London First and EcoWorld lunch back at the same room at the Carlton hotel as had hosted my earlier breakfast. As the weather had warmed up, I was finally wearing my extremely bright acid yellow jacket and I am pleased to report that I haven’t been mistaken for a gilet jaune yet! The lunch attracted an impressive gathering of the great and good of the public and private sector. 

EcoWorld UK chief executive Heng Leong Cheong made a great introductory speech outlining their ambition to reach 10,000 UK rental units in the next five years. As Heng commented, at four years old, EcoWorld UK is a relatively young company but with ambitions to grow in significance. 

Deputy mayor Jules Pipe assured us that whatever happens London will remain a leading city. He gave our excellent legal system a shout-out as a contributor to the attractions of London. If it was a separate nation, London would be the eighth-largest economy in Europe, he said. Pipe needs a special mention in dispatches as he has spoken at so many of the London events I have attended over the last few days. 

I particularly enjoyed catching up with EcoWorld’s Marcus Marland and with Bisnow UK editor Mike Phillips (my former editor at Property Week). It was also useful to discuss with Barking & Dagenham leader Rodwell the proposed outputs from the recent London Councils Housing Conference. Look out for some useful practical suggestions about improving process coming up shortly.

My next lunch was the Investec beach party, an annual event that had the most extraordinary sushi, for those of us whohadn’t already eaten lunch! They always seem to be able to guarantee sunshine.

Then I headed back to the Palais for the Women’s cocktail event at which CBRE’s Amanda Clack spoke about her excellent new book on diversity and inclusion in real estate. She was followed by Chantal Clavier of Heidrick & Struggles on women’s empowerment. 

My next stop was the Innovation Centre, which I finally located on the basement floor. Below ground there was a whole other world of proptech events and I saw an excellent, if long, presentation by Enerbrain, an Italian company that has patented a system of dynamic regulation of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems that improves indoor comfort and reduces consumption for air conditioning.

Then it was sequins on for the Property Week editor’s VIP Mipim dinner, which always includes a select gathering of top real estate personalities for an animated roundtable debate. You will read all about it in Property Week – we covered everything from Brexit and leadership to retail, trust, affordable housing and homelessness. Thank you very much to our hosts New West End Company and James Andrew International for a thought-provoking debate. 

So I think I have covered real estate, diversity and proptech during the course of today. It was a terrific real estate evening but, once again, I missed out on a key proptech event – this time the Metaprop NYC boat party. At this rate, all my virtual proptech acquaintances with whom I communicate on Twitter are going to remain virtual!