MIPIM | North’s future is bright if towns collaborate says panel

MIPIM Coverage Sponsored By Castle Green Graphic Colour Block Larger Text White Background“Come now for what we’ve got today and stick around for what we’ll have in two decades’ time.” Those were the words of Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison as he spoke to a room of dozens of property professionals and investors at the international property conference.

Joining Murison on Invest Newcastle Stand’s ‘Devolution of Power: What’s Next for the North’ panel on Tuesday were Liverpool chief executive Katherine Fairclough, former Homes England chief and current Avison Young principal Nick Walkley, and North of Tyne Combined Authority investment programme manager Chrisi Page. Pam Smith, the current chief executive of Newcastle and former chief executive of Stockport, chaired the event.

Both Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester were hailed as examples of the potential devolution can bring and how it can be used to secure private investment. Walkley emphasised the potential role of private investment, encouraging those at the event to look beyond the current politics.

“We should be careful not to chase government policy and legislation,” he said. “It’s all transient.”

Fairclough agreed and encouraged the region to focus on a 40-year vision.

“Transport infrastructure will not improve in one political term,” she said. “Having long term ambition and really communicating that with this government and future governments will be absolutely critical to the North’s success.”

Fairclough added that the role of the combined authority is to help with that vision.

“Public sector partners can really demonstrate the art of the possible, help people lift their heads and get that long-term aspiration for place,” she said.

For the North to reach its full potential, however, Fairclough said that the region had to work together.

“If we look at some of those big-ticket areas of work – transport, infrastructure, net zero – I’m not going to deliver any of that just in the Liverpool City Region,” she said, adding that this is an opportunity for the whole of the North to work on.

Fairclough talked about the region’s links to Cheshire, Warrington, Lancashire, Cumbria and the coastal towns, and how they are working with the combined authority on areas like greener energy such as hydrogen and tidal.

“It’s only with a range of significant partners that we will bring the high level of private sector investment that’s needed – because it’s not something one council could ever make happen,” she said.

Murison discussed the lessons other authorities can learn from Greater Manchester, in particular for how it expanded its focus from just the city itself.

“GM was very good at developing proposals like the airport and Airport City,” he said, adding “So don’t believe that just investing in the city core will bring all the benefits.”

“There is no success for Liverpool without St Helens and vice versa,” he said later.

Smith concurred.

“It’s not just the cities or towns, it’s the cities and towns and working together and having that economic vision that binds people together,” she said.

Murison and Fairclough also challenged the region to think about more than just transport in the North and to focus on building up innovation, education, housing and social care.

“We will fix the problems with the International Rail Plan eventually,” Murison said. “But we can’t use all our bandwidth just for that.”

He went on, addressing potential investors specifically: “Northern leaders, devolved authorities – all of them are committed to the innovation agenda, to education and skills. We will get central government behind us.”

Place North West MIPIM 2022 coverage is sponsored by Castle Green Homes

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