Bill Davidson crop P

MIPIM 2023 must look to the next generation

Let’s use this valuable time out of the office to get our heads together and find opportunities for positive change, writes Bill Davidson of P4 Planning.

MIPIM 2023 has landed. As we look ahead to this week’s jam-packed schedule of keynote speeches, roundtables, lunches, and networking events, we’re ready for some engaging conversations and a good dash of positivity.

It’s a powerful thing when people collaborate. It’s particularly powerful at MIPIM because we’ve stepped away from our day-to-day schedule.

So, let’s not spend time grumbling about the state of the sector. Here is P4 Planning’s conversation checklist for MIPIM 2023.

Conversations at MIPIM must:

Focus on meeting the needs of future generations

We’re not just quoting the famed definition of sustainable development, which somehow evokes a feeling of far-off generations. We mean the generation of young people entering the workforce now, who are struggling to navigate the rising cost of living.

So, let’s get specific this week about how the public and private sectors can work together to deliver change that helps level up the North-South divide and brings about real opportunities for the young people in our region.

Focus on how we can bridge the divide

The yawning gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ needs to be bridged, especially when it comes to health, education, job opportunities, and housing provision.

Who are the haves? Those well-established in their careers and homeowners with a bit of capital behind them.

Who are the have nots? You guessed it – generally, the younger generation. The lucky ones are leaving education already in debt (if they made it that far), unable to save for a mortgage deposit, and struggling to pay their rent because of the cost of living. And we must not forget those with even more challenges to overcome – such as homelessness or unemployment.

We must talk about how development must be leveraged to spread wealth and prosperity to deliver fairer, more inclusive cities for all.

Think creatively about addressing climate change

Yes, there is an important role for innovation in our drive for net zero, but we must also think creatively about the shape and make-up of our places, so we don’t have to rely on technology to achieve low-carbon communities.

Thinking creatively about how to minimise travel, such as through the 15-minute neighbourhood concept, will be key to building inclusive, low carbon communities and places for all generations to thrive.

Talk pragmatically about Green Belt policy

It’s an issue that affects nearly 60% of UK local authorities and the recent draft changes to the NPPF propose to strengthen its protection without considering how it might form part of the solution to the acute housing crisis we face. The Green Belt has become more a political football than a fit-for-purpose built environment policy tool.

With housing delivery such a crucial component to bridging the generation divide, we must challenge this brief and ensure that Green Belt designations are reviewed through plan making. The often unhelpful political rhetoric should be unpicked, and the policy refocussed on protecting important environmental land and spaces from development and preventing towns from merging. Something must give.

Think creatively about how to bring talented young people into the built environment profession

Let’s face it. We need some fresh ideas and more hands on deck.

The public sector is buckling under the pressure of serious underfunding. We need to inspire more young people to join planning and other professions in the built environment. These careers play a key role in solving the problems of our day: climate change, a housing shortage, and increasing inequalities.

There are so many opportunities within the built environment to make positive change. MIPIM is the most visible moment of the property calendar and the press are watching so we must showcase the best of our sector to help attract the next generation.

Let’s start the conversation

Let’s not do the same old, same old. We need our elected leaders to adopt a more positive approach to development and openly recognise the important social, economic, and environmental benefits that development brings.

But let’s not wait for them to catch on. Let’s use MIPIM 2023 to talk positively, practically, and creatively to find solutions to the big problems facing the sector today.

We can make things happen. This is the magical power of MIPIM.


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Good thoughtful piece.

A thought. To stop towns merging, perhaps enhance designation green belt between these by planting biodiverse woodland? These new woodlands would also be accessible to many town dwellers and help build on the UK tree planting initiatives.


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