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The hot topics of MIPIM

What will be the key discussion points in Cannes? A breakfast roundtable with property leaders showed what the industry will be debating at this year’s MIPIM, writes Thomas Pearson of JMW Solicitors.

The anticipation surrounding MIPIM is intense, not least because this year a Manchester stand returns to La Croisette.

Attending MIPIM is a real statement of intent by the city and demonstrates its support for developers and investors.

Despite last year’s arrival of UKREiiF, no other real estate event is such an excellent barometer of the market. This isespecially true this year, thanks to the multiple competing issues that will demand the attention of every delegate.

Once again, we gathered 17 real estate industry leaders for a breakfast roundtable at Manchester’s 20 Stories to discuss what we can expect from this year’s MIPIM and to gauge opinion around which issues will occupy the region’s real estate market.

We identified five key themes: freeports, 15-minute cities, sustainability, industrial’s rise, and residential’s hesitance.


Freeports and their role in attracting investment have been a hot topic for many months, and everyone fully expects the discussion to continue. Most of the English freeports are now open for business, with all of the associated tax and tariff advantages which this brings.

In particular, the Liverpool City Region has recently received the green light to begin operations. There is no doubt the Liverpool contingent will be out in force in Cannes to showcase and build upon what looks to be a fantastic platform to attract inward investment, boost growth, and create high skilled employment.

15-minute cities

Looking out across the stunning city skyline visible from the top floor of 20 Stories was the ideal setting for the panel to consider the 15-minute city and the 20-minute neighbourhood.

The real estate industry accepts modern ways of working and living have evolved and also accepts that cities and many neighbourhoods have been slow to adapt.

Ensuring that all key amenities are reachable within 15 or 20 minutes requires a proper coming together of real estate professionals, developers, town planners, infrastructure, logistics and more – placemaking at its best. There is genuine appetite for this work.

Going green

Always important, this year the issue of sustainability will take centre stage.

There’s a real emphasis now on the practical methods needed to decarbonise the real estate industry. There’s a recognition of the need to accelerate the transformation of the built environment towards a more sustainable model. There was agreement around the table, however, that carbon zero achievements often depend on what, exactly, is reported on: Scope 1, but not Scope 2 and 3 for example?

Continuing the sustainability theme, it was felt that green dilapidations would be high on the MIPIM agenda, as owners and occupiers seek to mitigate the significant waste and carbon load arising from the fit-out and strip-out of the commercial property space, particularly the office environment.

Increasingly we are seeing firms consciously choosing sustainability as a key element of their workplace and likewise a key decision maker for the funds.

Last, but not least, there was speculation as to Manchester’s laudable aim of being the first city to be carbon zero by 2038 – a full 12 years before the rest of the UK. Will Manchester use the MIPIM forum to further the discussion on how they will achieve this?

‘Sexy’ sheds

There was a general acceptance that the logistics sector had been in some disarray in 2022 but that disarray had abated, and that sheds were still “sexy” – and necessary for the economy.

There was also a lively debate around planning slowing down the property development chain, and if the suggested fast-track scheme for planning applications would be something for which firms would be willing to pay. We hope to learn more about people’s views on this at MIPIM.

Overall there was an agreement that all real estate sectors were affected by a level of uncertainty, but there was also an acceptance that this uncertainty was likely to dissipate over the coming year – uncertainty also leads to opportunities.

The state of resi

Those at the breakfast felt that the residential sector is still showing signs of nerves, and a plateau – or what one might call a bottoming-out period – feels imminent, however that’s only because prices are cooling.

It was interesting to note there was a certain amount of disbelief from some as to why anyone would, under current conditions, invest in BTL.

Equally it was agreed that most investors are sitting on plenty of cash, and are simply waiting for more certainty before they make their move.

The breakfast closed with some excellent stories about the true value of MIPIM: meeting people who become key contacts and with whom one can do business.

From being stranded at a train station and sparking up a conversation with a fellow passenger, to a chance introduction at La Croisette to someone you’ve been trying to speak to for the past year, MIPIM offers real estate professionals genuine “Sliding Doors” moments, when everything changes because of who you’ve got talking to. Never underestimate the power of an introduction and what that can lead to.

It’s safe to say because of the shifting sands of our current political and legislative landscape, we real estate professionals are neither optimistic nor pessimistic about what the future brings. What we are, are pragmatic innovators. Whatever is thrown at us, whatever happens, we’ll handle it and make it work. It’s what we do.

  • Thomas Pearson is partner at JMW Solicitors, and joint head of the real estate commercial department


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