Day 2 didn’t start particularly well. In my rush to get to the 8.30am British Property Federation (BPF) Investors breakfast on time, I committed the cardinal error of putting on an empty lanyard without a Mipim pass and had to hotfoot it the 20 minutes back to the hotel to retrieve it.
The annual event was hosted at the Avison Young beachside pavilion and was in a new stand-up format. This encouraged networking and the serendipitous meetings I mentioned yesterday continued. Speaking to a packed room, the BPF’s Melanie Leech and Avison Young UK President Nick Walkley were a well-honed double act and the audience loved Leech’s description of Walkley as her ‘Mipim husband’, referencing the large number of Mipim events they go to together.
The guest speaker was Ramona Jones, deputy director of the Office for Investment, set up by former PM Boris Johnson. She explained that she was at Mipim to demonstrate her willingness to listen and that her department is able to bring together the levers to attract investment. Jones described the government as ‘in listening mode’.
She underlined that levelling up is a huge agenda and there would be announcements shortly about investment zones. Sure enough, 12 new investment zones were announced in the Spring Budget. Walkley reflected on the past year and stressed how important it was that the real estate sector now looks forward rather than back, as this is a critical year. He said the sector must assess its priorities and prepare for a change of power. Devolution will continue, so the question he posed is how do we help build communities. He also noted that the public sector is more open to new ideas than at any time in his career.
As chancellor Jeremy Hunt was presenting his ‘back to work’ Spring Budget, it was timely to run into Andrew Waller and Lorna Landells of Remit Consulting on the London Stand. They updated me on the data they continue to collect on the UK return to the office, which I have previously written about in my Property Week column. They have real data collected from office entry turnstiles and are able to aggregate it. In terms of which areas of London are doing best, they said Docklands has picked up and the West End has been consistently better than other areas. They also mentioned that Costar have reintroduced Loopnet, the online commercial real estate marketplace which, relying on data it has collected, is able to predict pretty accurately which tenants are likely to take what space.
Lunch was with Related Argent chair David Partridge, who in his role as the chair of the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard governance board is seeking to bring the entire real estate sector together around a common standard. We clearly need a single agreed methodology to evaluate net zero carbon performance and Partridge is working tirelessly to achieve an agreed standard for both new and existing buildings.
For one of my client meetings, I was able to try the brand new Carlton Hotel garden terrace. It is beautifully landscaped and very relaxing, but you do miss out on the people spotting that is such a feature of the main lounge. At Mipim, we survive on a strange diet of croissants and canapés, interspersed with the occasional meal, but I wonder where the residents of Cannes buy food? Looking for an apple or a banana this afternoon, I trailed fruitlessly up and down the Rue d’Antibes until I eventually found a small bar with a fruit bowl. After some negotiation, the waitress kindly agreed to let me have a banana as a gift as it wasn’t for sale. But seriously, where are the food stores?
As usual, the Cannes weather has proved unpredictable, moving from winter to summer and back again in a matter of minutes. Ronen Journo of Hines and Paul Disley-Tindell of Telereal Trillium recognised each other as soul mates, as each seemed to have struck on the idea of checked suiting as the ideal Mipim garb. I thought they looked a picture of sartorial elegance and asked them to pose together. I still haven’t run into brand expert Steve Edge this Mipim. The eye catching outfits of this self-proclaimed prophet, madman and wanderer never disappoint. He lives by the motto ‘dress for a party every day and the party will come to you’. If you want to know why, listen to the podcast we recorded together and get out your sequins!
Finally, thank you to Damian Wild, Leanne Tritton and the ING Media team for a fab dinner on the beach. You assembled a good mix of developers, architects, lenders and other property experts, which made for fascinating conversations amongst your guests. I finally got to catch up with Rachel Miller from Housing Growth Partnership, an equity investor in residential development keen to form strategic partnerships, whose aim is to accelerate housing delivery and help businesses grow. We will follow up with some introductions back in London. And thank you ING and L’Ondine particularly for the desert - an amazing pistachio confection in choux pastry that was exquisite!