MIPIM COMMENT | The North West returns to La Croisette  

MIPIM is a major annual event in the real estate calendar – and with several years lost to the pandemic, there is even greater anticipation as the industry arrives in Cannes for the 2022 conference, writes Thomas Pearson of JMW Solicitors.

In March 2020, I started a monthly roundtable series as a forum for our contacts to support each other and share insights as we learned to navigate a newly virtual world. The Zoom calls kept conversation going in an industry that thrives on collaboration, but last week it was fantastic to once again be able to meet in person.

We gathered 16 real estate industry leaders for a breakfast roundtable at Manchester’s 20 Stories to discuss what we can expect from the first post-pandemic MIPIM and the outlook for the region’s real estate market.

After a plethora of useful tips – from the benefits of Berocca through to tip-offs on the best running club (7am outside the Radisson Blu in case you’re interested) – the conversation kicked off with the big question on many minds: will Manchester’s decision not to take a stand impact the city’s prospects? And will it return for 2023?

Manchester will certainly be missed in Cannes, with real estate leaders sharing their belief in the value of the stand and the importance of providing an opportunity to meet the team on the ground making things happen.

However, its absence may prove a coup for the likes of Liverpool and Newcastle, with attention directed toward other locations. Liverpool continues to work hard to repair its reputation for development. A MIPIM free of Manchester’s shadow may be a welcome prospect – along with the chance to re-present its offer.

Going into MIPIM, there are many success stories across the North West to share. The industrial and logistics and residential sectors are continuing to thrive. Manchester’s office market has demonstrated resilience throughout the pandemic and continues a strong recovery, particularly in comparison to other UK regional cities. Inward investment remained buoyant, with 80% of take-up during 2021 driven by new businesses moving into the city and headline rents increasing twice during the pandemic. The flight to quality is expected to continue with amenities playing an important role in decision-making criteria, alongside environmental credentials.

Sustainability is likely to feature in many of the discussions taking place out in Cannes – it will continue to grow in importance, particularly for those occupiers and investors who are mandated to measure ESG credentials.

Hot on the heels of COP26, the green agenda is one of the key talking points for MIPIM 2022 – while retrofitting secondary stock will be a mammoth task, both Manchester and Liverpool boast a host of exciting new net zero carbon projects that offer a glimpse of what the region can offer; from HBD’s £100m Island scheme in Manchester to Sciontec’s £35m Hemisphere building in Liverpool.

Along with offices, build-to-rent is expected to be a huge story for the North West, leading the way with projects with wellness and sustainability at their core. Vox, a Glenbrook scheme, is one such project that demonstrates real ambition to push the boundaries, meeting LETI embodied carbon guidelines and creating sustainable homes.

BTR will continue to deliver new homes within key urban locations, but affordable housing still requires more impetus to meet established need. It has sparked fierce debate in recent years, particularly in Manchester, however it is positive to see interesting solutions emerging from the likes of HSPG. With ‘housing first’ listed as one of six items on the MIPIM agenda, we expect affordable housing to form a key point for discussion.

It’s clear that the North West has no shortage of exciting new projects, with developers focused on innovation and great design and local authorities that understand and value placemaking and creating communities.

The region will remain a major destination for investment, both domestic and international, and MIPIM once again offers the chance to solidify intentions and create new opportunities – not only for major cities, but up-and-coming areas like Stockport and Bury, along with destinations that require more investment and impetus.

And while the Manchester stand is destined to spend another twelve months in storage, we can rely on the city’s real estate professionals to continue representing Manchester and everything it has to offer.

  • Thomas Pearson is a partner and the head of real estate commercial at JMW Solicitors

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I agree with your views, Thomas, on green issues; retrofitting secondary stock is a mammoth but not impossible task and we have to get better at this. HBD and GMPF in John Dalton Street are responding to the shift for occupier priorities towards lowest energy cost and green credential premises after the 3Ps.

By Jane Harrad-Roberts

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