MIPIM 2018

Mishcon de Reya Partner Susan Freeman has written a daily MIPIM blog for Property Week. The blog offers a unique insight into the event, debates and parties during MIPIM week.

Susan Freeman's MIPIM 2018 Blog

We woke on Thursday morning to the sound of torrential rain and the wind whistling menacingly through the windows. As we Mipim veterans know, this is bad for those hosting beach and boat parties but a boon for the conference organisers as everyone huddles into the Palais with no great incentive to leave.

Thankfully my breakfast meeting with JLL’s Guy Grainger was at the Carlton and he had very resourcefully nabbed a table in the bar before the long queue for the restaurant had formed. Nobody wanted to give up their tables as they were not at all keen to venture outside.

The continental European men were instantly recognisable by their double-knotted scarves. The Brits clearly hadn’t received that memo! Umbrellas were in short supply but I had the foresight to commandeer mine from the hotel the night before. It was just as well as even the relatively short walk to my lunch venue left me soaked and windswept. Not a good look.

Our build-to-rent lunch at the award-winning Martinez Palme D’Or restaurant hosted by the London Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Cast, Turley, Get Living London and Interserve was a great success. Although we couldn’t use the sun terrace for fear of drowning, we were treated to a fantastic lunch. We heard from Darren Rodwell, the ebullient leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, and “the bureaucrats”, as he put it, from Manchester and Birmingham.

Rodwell told us about the work Be First, Barking’s new development company is doing and vowed to build 60,000 homes in 25 years and to stop gentrification. The problem, he said, is “making money on the back of vulnerable people” and he doesn’t want to see our principles “destroyed by greed”. A developer in the audience took great umbrage at the suggestion that developers were greedy, which led to a lively exchange, but they seemed to subsequently resolve their differences. Talking to Rodwell after the debate, he referred to the London commuter belt as being shaped like an octopus rather than a doughnut! That’s something I hadn’t considered before!

Focal point

I began to feel I was stalking Rodwell as he was speaking on the next London and Manchester panel on on the London stand. I came in just in time to hear him say that Brexit is a waste of time and money. Manchester leader Sir Richard Leese said that cities need to be part of the Brexit discussion, which seems fair enough. It was good to have time to catch up with some familiar faces on the London stand. Paul Finch, editor of the Architectural Review and Architects’ Journal, ran his wrap-up at the earlier time of 4pm to accommodate the panel. We even had a few interesting minutes to talk real estate history, on the subject of the legendary Harry Hyams, his architect John Seiffert and the building of London’s Centre Point.

The London stand excelled itself this Mipim and was a real focal point, although it has to be said that the wifi was not its strongest point. Maybe capacity was affected by the sheer number of delegates but, with the increasing focus on tech, this is something we have to sort out before next Mipim.

The highlight of Thursday evening at Mipim is always the James Andrew International party, this year without co-host Coutts. Invitations to this event are always highly sought after but I have never seen the room so busy with the top real estate dealmakers. And I hadn’t appreciated before that the smoked salmon served throughout the evening had apparently travelled with me from London. It’s probably best not to know! It was great to meet some of property’s new generation such as Freddie McAlpine, scion of the McAlpine family who is working with James Andrew. In his spare time he is a talented metal sculptor. I was very impressed.

Then it was dinner at Petite Maison where, over the excellent but loud live music, I chatted to TV architect George Clarke who has recently invested in Tom Bloxham’s Urban Splash. He told me about his Ministry of Building Innovation, which is working generationally to promote the teaching of construction industry skills in the regions. It sounds an amazing initiative and he is clearly passionate about this initiative. Apologies to Tom Bloxham, a Mipim co-conspirator of too many years to remember, for having to bail out on the after-dinner bar trail he organised for our party! I really enjoyed the truth game for our table. A remarkable way to get to know your fellow diners.

Invest in Great Britain

It was, despite the antisocial weather, a great day and a particularly good Mipim. Landsec chief executive Rob Noel remarked at the London Chamber lunch that it was his first visit to Mipim since 2002. He was there this year in his BPF capacity and he was impressed by the way it had grown, the number of countries now represented and the conference programme. A number of senior British property representatives have mentioned the benefit of being to meet with European counterparts all in one place.

And certainly the government presence lends weight to the ‘invest in Great Britain’ message. The excellent Department for International Trade pavilion has really come into its own this year with a full on programme of events co-hosted with the BPF. At times it has been difficult to divide myself between the panels on the London stand and the government stand and there has definitely been no time for the Palais conference programme.

No doubt there will be articles in the press talking down Mipim but that shouldn’t detract from what has been for most of us a fantastic business event. Many deals have been done and there has been much useful exchange particularly between the many representatives of central and local government and the private sector. As one of my favourite Twitter combatants Ellandi’s Mark Robinson and I agreed on over dinner last night, it is the random encounters at Mipim that make it so very worthwhile.

To read this article on Property Week, please click here.

It was another bright but early start for the BPF Investors Breakfast, which always draws a great crowd. This year, in a new departure, instead of one speaker there was a panel that included Landsec chief executive Rob Noel, GVA’s Gerry Hughes and Homes England’s Louise Wyman.

It was another bright but early start for the BPF Investors Breakfast, which always draws a great crowd. This year, in a new departure, instead of one speaker there was a panel that included Landsec chief executive Rob Noel, GVA’s Gerry Hughes and Homes England’s Louise Wyman. The discussion was around the important topic of what makes for a successful public/private sector partnership.

Noel reckons that “a common goal and trust” are essential. Other prerequisites were clarity of objective, an ability to flex and change and, of course, political stability. Hughes said that clients were concerned about the current political uncertainty as it affects long-term arrangements. This is an issue that is coming up at many Mipim debates this year.

Strong leadership was also cited as an essential and reference was made to Sir Howard Bernstein and what he achieved for Manchester. Palace Capital’s Neil Sinclair asked from the floor how the public and private sectors would be able to work together if John McDonnell became chancellor. The panel dealt with this well and felt that the private sector would find a way. Veteran real estate investor Sinclair, who experienced London in the 1970s, did not look convinced.

Housing crisis focus

I then hoofed it down a very busy Croisette to a heaving London stand where ebullient London Chamber president Tony Pidgley of Berkeley Homes was speaking to a wrapt audience. On a similar theme to the BPF panel, he said public/private sector collaboration was key to solving the housing crisis.

Fortunately nobody asked the John McDonnell question! “Why does it take so long to sign a s106 agreement?” he asked rhetorically. “Let’s get the government to recognise there is a housing crisis,” he said, “and let’s get on with Crossrail 2 so we can provide homes.”

On the question of skills shortage, Pidgley told the audience that 60% of his labour force is from Europe. His company Berkeley is trying to help address the skills shortage with apprenticeships and skill academies. It has invested in a factory and is now building modular with units coming out ready carpeted. On the subject of small housebuilders, Pidgley said when he started he used to have 40 competitors and now there are only two! He expressed surprise when an audience member said the recent Letwin report blamed the housebuilders rather than the planning system for restricting housing supply. No doubt we will hear more about this.

Putting Wembley on the map

The next panel featured the inspirational double act of Barking & Dagenham council leader Darren Rodwell and his chief executive Chris Naylor. The GLA’s David Lunts jokingly pointed out that Barking & Dagenham was a bigger crowd-puller than Tony Pidgley! It was their marriage of “vision, commitment and passion” that attracted people. Rodwell said it was ridiculous that he was the most senior London politician at Mipim.

Naylor really nailed it talking about the problem of the perception of the development sector, which needs to be seen as part of the solution to the housing crisis. He made it clear that Barking only wants to deal with developers who see affordable housing as a long-term investment. If the private sector doesn’t see itself as the solution to providing council housing then it should say so, he said.

This session was followed by an excellent build-to-rent panel chaired by Alex Notay of Places for People, which discussed the growing UK sector. I had to leave but heard Apache’s Richard Jackson saying we needed to learn from the standards of service provided in the US. It will be interesting to see how far the UK model follows the US in terms of amenities.

After absorbing all this content in quick succession, lunch beckoned at the Investec beach party on the Croissette. I have observed a new trend this Mipim in that a number of guests have only flown in for the day. A number told me they had come to Cannes solely to attend Investec’s party. This is a testament to the hosts who lay on quite a spread featuring excellent sushi and champagne. It was so enjoyable chatting beachside that I have to admit to missing a few DIT panels on strategic housing growth and design that I had intended to go to.

Quintain had a drinks reception on its impressive new London stand celebrating Wembley’s inclusion in the Pipers London model, which really puts Wembley Park on the map.

Then it was my panel on ‘London is open: diversity as a mindset’. My excellent fellow panellists were New West Company’s Jace Tyrrell, Emma Cariaga from British Land and Killian Hurley from Mount Anvil. We had a far-reaching debate and I got to discuss one of my favourite topics: the dangers of ‘comfortable clone syndrome’.

I was proud to be able to say that 57% of our real estate lawyers at Mishcon de Reya are women and that we were the first London law firm to have a non-solicitor chairman. We covered some wide-ranging issues including how to attract people with different backgrounds and skills into real estate to make a difference.

To everyone’s surprise, the Inaugural Homes England reception on the DIT stand had people queuing outside, which shows the regard for the new Homes England team and bodes well for the excellent work they are doing .

Dinner delight

Finally the long-awaited Property Week editor’s dinner. Now in its third year, this event, chaired by Liz Hamson, is sponsored by James Andrew International and New West End Company. It attracts a top-rate crowd drawn from all aspects of real estate who are expected to sing meaningfully for their supper.

This year guests included Manchester’s Tom Bloxham and TV architect George Clarke, who has just invested in Urban Splash. We covered a huge amount of ground and I won’t detract from the forthcoming Property Week feature, other than to say the ‘trust’ word and benign dictatorships were discussed quite a lot!

The real strength of Mipim is the random encounters. I was delighted to connect with proptech expert Eddie Holmes who I know well virtually. He is much taller in real life than he looks on Twitter!

Sadly there was no Tristan party this year but hopefully it will be back next year. Having said that, the music was still pounding at another beach party until 1:30 in the morning!

To read this article on Property Week, please click here.

Although it’s still very breezy, the sun is shining as the Department for International Trade (DIT) opens its content packed MIPIM programme with the British Property Federation.

There was even a long queue to enter the conference as overzealous security guards wouldn’t let us in a minute before 9am.

The first panel was an impressive line-up of metro mayors including ex-John Lewis chief executive Andy Street, now the mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. He talked about the de-industrialisation of brownfield land to bring life back to communities. All the metro mayors hinted intriguingly of announcements to come.

Clearly although there is healthy competition between them, they are all aligned in doing the best for their communities. The diversity issue was touched upon with Street pointing out to London First chair Jasmine Whitbread that she had to be there for him to be able to appear on the panel, presumably because he can’t sit on single-sex panels.

It was good to catch up on the London stand with TfL commercial director Graeme Craig, who tells me he now runs a 70-strong development team working on 50 schemes. Its extensive programme includes 3,000-plus homes this year and it will be moving into PRS in a big way, and also modular construction.

The sun is shining in Cannes but there is lots going on inside the pavilion

At Morden, he tells me, it is working with the council on the town centre, which is intended to be a model for other town centre rollouts. It will also be creating something transformational in its mobile coverage. With the impending opening of the Elizabeth line, TfL is seeking six sector-exclusive corporate sponsors to be long-term partners helping promote the new line. The entrance fee for each sponsor will be £6.5m.

’Inadequate investment in R&D’

I enjoyed the next DIT panel on innovation chaired by JLL’s Guy Grainger, who has definitely missed his vocation on the stage. I was particularly impressed by the energy of new Lendlease head of offices Sherin Aminossehe, who was parachuted on to the panel straight from the airport. In just a few hours at Mipim she apparently spoke on two panels and did one vox pop, one pod cast, three catch-ups and two business meetings. She was back in London by 6pm. Is this some sort of record? The panel touched on the government’s inadequate investment in R&D. Construction is a massive part of our GDP, they said, and yet there is minimal investment in research. The need for new methods of construction and shortage of constructions skills were discussed and Aminossehe even challenged Crest Nicholson’s Steve Stone in the audience to lead the way on building quality.

Panellist Mark Reynolds of Mace said “shame on industry for not collaborating more”. There is innovation, he said, but people are not sharing ideas.

It was a quick sprint, avoiding the public realm roadworks that seem to be everywhere in Cannes this year, to the London Chamber drinks reception where president Tony Pidgley once again welcomed deputy mayor for planning Jules Pipe for their rousing annual Mipim double act. It was a great London turnout with the top echelons of many London developers and Pipe also touched on skills as a huge issue for the construction industry. It got me thinking of who made up the Cannes construction workforce!

Then another sprint down to the Majestic through further street works to the Westminster Property Alliance lunch with Sheffield Property Association. This lunch has now become a regular Mipim fixture, although with the local elections looming, Westminster Council was notable by its absence this year.

Another canter down the Croisette to the beach drinks reception hosted by resi developer Moda, which was in full swing when I arrived. It was useful to catch up with hosts Tony and Oscar Brooks. They told me they are focusing on build-to-rent development and aim to design, build and operate their schemes. They are able to take a long-term 30-year view. Their recent tie-up with Uber indicates that they are prepared to take an innovative approach. They were celebrating having just got planning consent for their Glasgow scheme.

Women’s networking

It was then back to the Palais to represent Women Talk Real Estate at a women’s networking reception sponsored by Ivanhoe Cambridge. This was open to the many nationalities attending Mipim, although the Brits and the French seemed the largest contingents. One or two men were in attendance, including The Guardian’s wealth correspondent! On the way back, the most important event was the purchase of a coat to combat the chilly night-time weather.

We had to pick our way through the glitzy Mipim opening night party at the Carlton to reach the FTI drinks party at its new plage-side venue. Hosted by former Property Week editor Giles Barrie, it was well very well attended as always and a good opportunity to catch up with the real estate world’s glitterati. Then it was on to the Mishcon de Reya Tuesday night client dinner at the Petite Maison where a last-minute table switch meant a quick reinvention of the table plan. All worked seamlessly and conversation flowed well into the early hours against the backdrop of a great live band.

A perfect end to a long day and nearly time to get going for an early breakfast.

To read this article on Property Week, please click here.

Susan's Previous MIPIM Blogs

It's still all about collaboration (the famous C word) and we are delighted to be launching The Collaborators initiative for 2017 with EG. See The Collaborators magazine 2016 and read all about this exciting initiative that rewards and promotes collaboration in the built environment.

It was another early start this morning. This time for the Movers & Shakers/JLL UK Cities Breakfast. I have to say that the short stroll along the Croisette to the JLL beachside pavilion certainly trumped my normal dawn racing drive through London's Mayfair to reach the usual Dorchester breakfast venue. The panel was on top form, extolling the virtues of Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and beyond. Central's Patricia Brown referring to our cities' individual DNAs asked the panel to describe the personality of each of their cities. The best answer was from Eamonn Boylan, the recently anointed CEO of Greater Manchester, who described Manchester as 'a place of balls, brains and global firsts'! He was of course quoting from a local poet. He acknowledged that this description was 'a bit macho'. In a clever retort, the GLA's Executive Director Housing and Land, David Lunts described London as 'outgoing, curious and...gender neutral'!

UK Cities Breakfast Panel

Boylan talked about the all-important collaboration between the UK's local regional cities being better than ever. But, he warned that we need to maintain an international perspective as our cities are competing with the likes of Barcelona, Paris and Berlin. Birmingham City's leader, Cllr John Clancy acknowledged the backing the government was giving to attract investment to UK cities but the next step, he said, is finding financial models that work. JLL's Katie Kopec acknowledged that the OJEU process to acquire public land puts people off. Central government needs to make it easier.  

Then back onto the Croisette to the London Stand in time for the Northbank BID brunch. With Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davis in attendance, CapCo's Andy Hicks spoke about Covent Garden's role in this important collaboration between Westminster and local landlords and businesses. Chatting to Ruth Duston, CEO of the Northbank BID later, she talked about the new energy around this cultural quarter as the BID is facilitating redevelopment and redesign of the area. 'Collaboration is key' she said, without any prompting from me!

Minister for Housing and London, Gavin Barwell MP was speaking in the UK Government pavilion but he was due to be guest speaker at my next event so I moved swiftly on. The London Chamber of Commerce, build to rent developer Essential Living and Cast Consultancy laid on a spectacular build to rent lunch at the famous Palme D'Or restaurant at the Martinez Hotel with the Minister as guest of honour. This was one of many fixtures in his packed MIPIM agenda.

Unusually, guests were lined up for professional photos on the way in to the lunch. I initially thought these were our hosts, until fellow guests quickly explained that we were in the presence of some revered ex professional rugby players!  In an amusing interlude, Harry Downes, of build to rent developers Fizzy, showered me in fizzy bubbly whilst attempting to get out a Fizzy business card while holding a glass of champagne. All in a good cause though!

Over lunch, I had a chance to catch up with Jason Sibthorpe on his exciting new career with Canadian based Avison Young, which describes itself as the world's fastest-growing commercial real estate services company. I predict you will be hearing a lot more about them in the UK. I hope to have the opportunity to meet the company's founder, Mark Rose, who - as Jason explains it -started the company because he wanted to create an antidote to the big corporate approach. Watch that space.

Our guest of honour, Minister Gavin Barwell MP, did a very speedy canter through the recent white paper with a particular focus on those aspects affecting build to rent. He flagged the fact that he wants more institutional investors to back build to rent. He acknowledged that the housing crisis is most acute in London and spoke of his building a good relationship with the London mayor and, importantly, the deputy mayor for housing, James Murray. This is clearly a very useful and necessary cross party collaboration. There were name checks in his speech for Cast Consultancy, with the Minister expressing his gratitude to Cast's Mark Farmer for the role he has played in trying to modernise the construction sector. He also remarked that he was interested in Liz Peace's CIL review and its suggestion that the government set a national tariff rate that is collected locally although he stressed that they haven't yet decided what to do. Hopefully there will be a decision coming up soon as I'm told that the report has been in since the autumn.

As Essential's Darryl Flay joked in his closing speech, his friend and guest, retired rugby star Victor Ubogu had managed to source the most expensive restaurant in Cannes. Perhaps it was as the standard of food and service was superb and was very much appreciated by the great and good of the world of real estate who clearly enjoyed this special event. On a serious note, Flay talked of the many opportunities for local authorities and the public sector to collaborate and predicted that the build to rent sector will end up larger than the commercial property sector. I had delayed my flight back to London so as not to miss this event and I'm delighted that I did.

London Chamber

I was obliged to cut short my MIPIM trip this year so I can get to a family wedding in Miami on Friday morning. Sadly, this means that I am missing the James Andrew International/Coutts & Co Thursday night reception, a great co-hosting collaboration and one of my favourite MIPIM events that, as a rule, I never miss. The good news is that I'm not missing Tom Bloxham's legendary Friday BBQ, as it's apparently not happening this year (or that's what I was told!) I'd like to think it's because I'm leaving Cannes early, but of course it's not!

So thank you to all the clients, contacts co-collaborators and friends new and old who have helped to make this a very special and productive MIPIM. And a particular mention to those at the Department for International Trade who were responsible for bringing the UK Government presence and support to MIPIM. It was widely remarked upon and a great fillip for the British contingent at MIPIM to have the government there helping to promote inward investment. Another Great British collaboration!

Invest in Great Britain

This morning started early with the excellent British Property Federation and GVA International Investors breakfast. It was a pleasure to catch up with Mount Anvil's Killian Hurley on issues such as tackling the skills shortage and public/private sector collaboration. In his keynote speech, Paul Brundage of Oxford Properties gave us a timely reminder that uncertainty creates opportunities and that international investors are still bullish about the UK. We were also reminded that at the same event last year an audience poll expected us to vote against Brexit! It shows how wrong you can be.

Then I hot footed it down to the London Stand for a succession of high quality and thought provok-ing panels. They were so interesting that I remained firmly in my seat until lunchtime, which wasn't my original intention.

First on was Tony Pidgley's Q&A with Peter Murray on building for the mega city. Mr Pidgley was in fine form. He called for a review of the greenbelt. I hope the government representatives down here at MIPIM were listening. He also put forward the case for fiscal devolution to the London Mayor.

Then there followed a rousing panel representing east London, investing in the east. As at yester-day's panel you can't fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm of Barking & Dagenham Leader Dar-ren Rodwell. He was joined by Newham leader Sir Robin Wales and Deputy London Mayor Jules Pipe. To much applause, they outlined the success of east London including of course the legacy of the Olympics at Stratford. Post Brexit 'the working classes will get on with it' said Rodwell. 'East London will be leading the way!'

Then a panel posing the question, 'What is the value of placemaking'? This panel included Martin Jepson of Brookfield, Lucy Musgrave of Publica and David Twohig of Battersea Power Station. Lucy Musgrave spoke eloquently of the need for public spaces to be elegant and beautiful when quiet. The authenticity point is critical, she said. Interestingly, architect Matthias Hollwich said the test of a successful place is whether people talk to each other in the lift. The panel discussed a better term for placemaking which Musgrave says has become jargon. She suggested 'civic urbanism'. Any other thoughts?

Next was a panel on unlocking value through transport investment. New West End Company Chairman Sir Peter Rogers contended that the London Mayor Sadiq Khan's first term will be judged on whether he has fulfilled promises on pollution, pedestrianisation and health.

The morning's final panel on the London Stand was on modular housing. It was good to welcome Manchester's Tom Bloxham to the London Stand. Maybe the new proximity of the Manchester Stand to the London Stand facilitated his journey! Sir Eddie Lister pointed out 'we are still at the foothills of modular'. He said we need to push modular with the funds so that they invest. He also made the point that good quality is important.

Investec have certainly chosen the right year to reinstate their client beach party which for many years was a mainstay of the MIPIM scene. Today the weather was perfect although there is still talk of last year's unseasonably wet Wednesday when we were huddled together to keep out of the cold wind and dripping rain. Cannes is not designed for wet weather!

Savills annual MIPIM lunch on the beach, featuring the great and good of residential real estate also benefited from the sunny weather. So much so that, having learnt from experience, I was handing out sunscreen.

The Property Week Editor's dinner now into its second year was a great success. Sponsored by James Andrew International and New West End Company and chaired by Editor Liz Hamson the dinner brought together the brightest and best in real estate. We managed to achieve a great mix of views and sectors. I will leave Property Week to tell you what we discussed round the table!

My night finished at the wildly wonderful Tristan After Dark party. They once again pulled out all the stops to create the most amazing glittering party on the beach. I think the glitter will be with me for weeks to come!

It's all about collaboration at MIPIM this year. The 'C' word as EG Editor's Damian Wild puts it. From the panels on the London stand and in the British Government pavilion to the lunches and other events. It's particularly encouraging as we have just launched the third year of our Collaborators initiative with EG. The Collaborators rewards those, particularly in the public and private sector, who come together to collaborate in order to improve the built environment.

In the Palais the Barking and Dagenham panel, featuring Lord Bob Kerslake, David Lunts and council leader Darren Rodwell, positively fizzed with enthusiasm for their new regeneration company Be First. Owned by the council, the company will work with private sector developers to share in the gains of housing development to create great places for the borough. 'The South of France is OK' said Rodwell 'but I prefer Southend'. I know what he means.

Next up was a placemaking panel including Deputy Leader of Westminster Cllr Robert Davis who is in charge of placemaking for Westminster. They are working with the London Mayor to facilitate many improvements to areas including Victoria, Oxford St and Bond St. Davis stressed the importance of having a vision and leading in order to change places for the better. New West End Company CEO Jace Tyrrell asked the audience who had heard of BIDs. Gratifyingly 50% of the audience said they had. BIDs are the ultimate public/private sector collaboration as they bring local authority and private sector together with key stakeholders such as Transport for London to bring local projects to life.

Then a quick walk across the packed Croisette for the London Chamber annual MIPIM reception accessed this year with a special gold card. With a full capacity audience, deputy mayor Jules Pipe spoke alongside Berkeley Homes Chairman Tony Pidgley. A terrific public/ private sector speaking collaboration! Both spoke enthusiastically about supporting fiscal devolution for London and the importance of development near transport hubs.

On to Westminster Property Association/ New West End Company annual MIPIM lunch on the terrace of the Majestic Hotel. There were rousing speeches from The Crown Estate's James Cooksey, Westminster's Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe and public realm expert Lucy Cosgrave. Again the theme was placemaking and good design. The emphasis was on public and private sector working together to improve their area. And Westminster do this in spades. Jules Pipe praised the work Westminster has done and declared that the GLA wants to help town halls get back their passion for the built environment. 'Westminster heritage has been preserved under the careful hand of Robert', he said. He also recognised the civic quality of Westminster's public realm. Lucy Cosgrave spoke of the collaboration between Westminster, TfL and private developers to create civic transformation around Crossrail. She said that other cities were taking note and that private sector had helped deliver. 'It is a golden moment in civic leadership. We should deliver with flair and ambition' she said.

Since the talk of MIPIM has been the huge presence of the British Government at MIPIM, I was really excited to be on a public/private sector panel in the Government pavilion. Chaired by EG Editor Damian Wild, the panel included Argent's David Partridge, Paul Clark from Capita, Ed Casal and Renos Booth from Aviva, Lyn Garner, Haringey Regeneration director and Gordon More from HCA. With further discussion of the important 'C' word, I was able to talk about our Collaborators initiative with EG, just launching for its third year and why it came about.

The remainder of the early evening was spent at drinks receptions courtesy of Lloyds Bank and FTI and then on to our Tuesday night MIPIM dinner at La Petite Maison. Once again we managed to assemble some of the most interesting real estate entrepreneurs in UK and Hong Kong and the conversation flowed as freely as the wine and delicious food accompanied by the Gypsy Kings or similar.

The organisers pulled out all the stops for this year's MIPIM opening party. The Croisette was closed, there were rows of vintage cars outside the Carlton Hotel and early Beatles numbers on a content loop. I assume it must have been a 60s theme although I can't explain the people dressed for a Mad Hatters Tea Party! May be it was a Purim thing... (a Jewish festival celebrated by some serious dressing up).

The good thing about arriving early is getting the chance to have a look around before MIPIM opens on Tuesday morning and the mad scramble begins to get to all your meetings, events and speaking engagements on time.

At dinner last night with agent extraordinaire Harvey Soning and New West End Company (NWEC) Chief Executive Jace Tyrrell, we were able to discuss all things West End related and to plan strategy for some of our combined events this week.

The Department for International Trade have done a tremendous job of promoting their Invest in Great Britain campaign on every moving and non-moving surface in Cannes. See below pics of their huge banner above the Palais de Festivals, the nerve centre of MIPIM, and on the MIPIM courtesy cars. In a MIPIM first, they have their own Government pavilion and will be flying out Ministers and senior officials who will be speaking at a series of debates. I'm honoured to have been included in tomorrow afternoon's panel on 'Public Private Partnerships: The Future is Innovative,' when I hope to be able to talk about our Collaborators initiative with Estates Gazette which has just launched for its third year.

Lunch today was with another of my co-collaborators, Pat Brown. Pat reminded me that it's 17 years since the New York study trip she organised to investigate Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and to see if the New York model would work in London. Others on that historic trip included Tony Travers, Jackie Sadek and Alistair Subba-Row. We came back enthused and motivated and the Circle Initiative was born which brought in the early BIDs. We have come a long way with this important public/private partnership model which has enhanced many parts of London and other parts of the UK where BIDs have been adopted. 

My next meeting was with NWEC BID CEO Jace Tyrrell and the London Communications Agency team to discuss arrangements for our Labour and Conservative Party Conference Dinners in the Autumn. Nothing beats thinking ahead!

I finished the afternoon over tea with Laura Mazzeo of architects Farrells. We covered a huge range of thought provoking issues including the influx of Chinese developers into the UK, the differences between the development process in Hong Kong and London, the effect of artificial intelligence on jobs and lifestyle and designing buildings so they can be repurposed as necessary. Laura has lived and worked in many different places so has a good overview of cultural differences.

Dinner was at Cannes institution Maschou in the old town, courtesy of Harvey Soning and NWEC. Guests included Cllr Robert Davis, Sir Peter Rogers, EG editor Damian Wild and Barry Williamson, Head of Coutts Real Estate. The restaurant specialises in meat cooked in their special wood fired oven.

A busy first day and an early night ready for tomorrow's packed agenda.

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