There is little doubt Brexit will be dominating many discussions at Mipim this year.
However, while many other businesses attending will be speculating on the outcomes of Brexit, Bywater Properties is more interested to take part and listen in other informed debates on subjects where the UK has strategic advantage, or structural problems that will persist regardless of the Brexit outcome.
Medtech and housing are two examples of this. We will be focusing on the opportunities and challenges for those areas and others with similar dynamics.
Certainly, Brexit is of particular relevance to us in relation to Northern Ireland and the impact it might have on the Belfast office and housing markets, given Belfast’s potential to have a unique and powerful position in whatever scenario emerges.
We currently have a series of projects at advanced stages in London, Belfast, Manchester and Glasgow, so Mipim provides us with the opportunity to spend focused project time with delegations from those cities. It is particularly useful to understand the longer-term strategic objectives of those cities to make sure our intentions align both with existing policy and with emerging aspirations.
We are also closing a series of strategic partnerships for our next phase of investment, which we anticipate being of a larger scale, so Mipim provides an opportunity to bring that group together to cement relationships and finalise details before we enter a post-Brexit market, whatever that brings.
This year, Bywater Properties is attending as part of the Belfast delegation, a nearly 80-strong group of Belfast business leaders. We have been sponsors of the delegation for a number of years, as we have several prominent schemes in the city, which we have a long-held interest and confidence in.
We have been running a public consultation on a proposed mixed-use scheme in the Smithfield area focused around future workspace and independent retail and maker spaces, and expect to move ahead shortly with the refurbishment of the well-known Boots flagship on Donegall Place.
We have been pleased to support the city’s growing presence at Mipim over a number of years, and see this year as an opportunity to meet and collaborate with the other developers active in Belfast.