I consider myself a seasoned veteran when it comes to MIPIM, but it always amazes me how that feeling of excitement and trepidation kicks in the week beforehand. This year was always going to be busy, with a team of 12 from the LDN Collective championing diversity & collaboration for fairer, healthier & greener city-making.

This year was a tale of two cities, London and Newcastle, both of which are close to my heart. It was wonderful to see Opportunity London in full swing and the London stand getting it’s act together, after a difficult period post-COVID. I was also honoured to be the guest speaker at this year’s Newcastle dinner (last year it was Amanda Staveley after the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought the football club…so no pressure!) I took the opportunity to explain to the American and German investors we met why they should be investing in “The Capital of the North”.

Dee Corsi (CEO of New West End Co) & Darren Rodwell (Deputy Chair of London Councils)

Day One – Tuesday 12th March

MIPIM began with the west London business breakfast which was really buzzing this year and the LDN Collective were delighted to launch our new report on Net Zero Neighbourhoods which has been led by our sustainability experts AESG. This research and advocacy with 10 principles for planning and designing low carbon neighbourhoods and 10 case studies from around the world has already had a huge impact, and it was a topic of conversation throughout the whole of the week. You can read more about it and download the report here https://ldn-collective.com/insights/net-zero-launched/

Launching Net Zero Neighbourhoods at the West London Breakfast

We were honoured to have the Leader and Chief Executive of Hounslow Council as our special guests, a borough that has been significantly affected by the demand for electricity supply and is leading from the front in terms of innovation and partnerships. It was fantastic to have the Chief Executives of Quintain (Wembley Park), The Earls Court Development Company and Related Argent (Brent Cross) attending the breakfast to hear about this our latest research and advocacy.

Sam Luker from AESG on Net Zero Neighbourhoods

Next it was an intimate lunch hosted by WSP with guests from Savills, Aukett Swanke and our VIP Joanna Averley the UK Government Chief Planner. Joanna had left by the time I took this photo but not before we had some brilliant insights and conversations about the direction of planning in the UK, particularly digital planning, better resourcing within local authorities and the continuation of design codes.

WSP Lunch hosted by Bill Price

I have to hand it to Drees & Sommer, the German property consultancy firm. When the invite went out for ‘Cocktails and Sunset on the Beach’ it really was a no brainer and they kindly extended it to most of the LDN collective team. So this was an opportunity to regroup and compare notes after a busy first day.

Sunset on the Beach with Drees & Sommer

After the success of last year’s LDN Collective dinner at MIPIM we decided to do it again, and it will definitely be a regular fixture. This year we had some incredible guests including the leader of Newcastle City Council, Principal Asset Management a £600 billion fund expanding in the UK, ABRDN investment management who have launched a new student housing fund and bought Brent Cross shopping centre, the World Green Building Council, Kompass Venture Capital, RIOS and New London Architecture. It was such a great evening and many new friendships and memories were made.

LDN Collective's Annual MIPIM Dinner

Day Two – Wednesday 13th March

The City of London won my award for most innovative stand thanks to their 3D hologram installation, telling stories about the different initiatives that are underway transforming the square mile into London’s new cultural district with thriving Business Improvement Districts. The LDN Collective were delighted to support the City of London on their stakeholder engagement for the City Plan 2040, when we ran 10 workshops on different themes and focus areas, all of which led to a fantastic result when the Council approved the plan a few weeks ago.

Rob McNicol (Assistant Director of Planning at the City of London)

Lunch on Wednesday was superbly hosted by our property lawyers Brabners. The food, company and conversation were excellent and there’s something about eating seafood on the beach that makes it extra special. Interesting to hear about the project they are involved in in Kent for a new urban quarter and stadium led by the former developers of London Paramount. It’s reassuring to know that that Kuwaiti investment and commitment to the UK has not fallen away, just taken a different shape and form.

Lunch hosted by Brabners

The LCA and Town Legal drinks are always was the place to be. It was great to catch up with Dan Bridge and hear about the future of the Royal Docks now they have launched their 5 year plan. Also good to introduce our client Niamh O’Connor from Summix to the Deputy Mayor for Planning Jules Pipe and be part of an animated conversation about the role of planning policy to enable more custom-built emergency housing and relieve the temporary accommodation crisis.

LCA & Town Legal Reception

The Newcastle dinner was definitely a highlight and I was truly honoured to be asked to give the keynote speech. I told the guests about our recent study trip where we visited Newcastle Helix, the Stephenson Quarter and of course the Farrell Centre where the public can go to debate the past, present and future of this great city. In my speech I talked about human cities rather than smart cities, and the values that set Newcastle apart including humour, hospitality and humility. It can legitimately claim to be the friendliest city in the world.

LDN Collective Study Trip to Newcastle

With the recent investment from Saudi Arabia making their football club the wealthiest in the world, as well as the new combined authority and mayor, plus significant levelling up funding, this is Newcastle’s time to truly transform and evolve for the benefit of everyone there. The fact the leaders of Newcastle, Gateshead and Durham were sat next to each other at the dinner, galvanised by shared ambitions for the region, was an extremely positive sign that is not to be underestimated.

Newcastle Dinner at MIPIM

Day Three – Thursday 14th March

When I was invited to chair an interactive workshop on the Newcastle stand on the topic of managing global risks in a changing world my immediate thought was to invite an expert to ‘co-chair’ it with me! Thankfully Frances Heeney from Principal Asset Management was able to join me and we were delighted when a really interesting group came along for a lively and wide-ranging discussion. We covered topics ranging from data centres and the new grouping of cities known as FLAPD (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin) emerging as data centre hubs (although 35% of capacity is in the US and the majority of those are in Virginia!).

Invest Newcastle - Managing Global Risks

A fascinating conversation about shopping centres too and the constraints involved when looking at residential uses, as well as the need to allow for flexibility for future uses that we don’t yet know of. Interesting to hear from the Leader of Durham Council about their changing demographics and how that is affecting the demand for housing, for example the growing number of single parent families. Some great examples of housing catering for different generations and demographics, having a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

Interactive Workshop on the Newcastle Stand

Hot footing it to the London stand next for a brilliant session on greening urban design. It was great to hear from Becca Heron at Manchester City Council about projects like Mayfield with the first urban park in 100 years and Victoria North creating a new River Park. Charlotte Glaziers perspective was exciting, having worked in three different London boroughs and now working on a tapestry of pocket parks, as well as creating a new market place for ecosystem services. Finally Melissa Miller brought the international perspective and projects RIOS are working in LA, including rooftops that are publicly accessible and financially sustainable, with food markets and event spaces providing income.

Greening Urban Design on the London Stand

Day Four: Friday 15th March

I don’t know how he does it year in year out, but Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash is undoubtedly the greatest host, with the most spectacular house and interesting guests. It’s such a good way to wind down after MIPIM and meet people that you wouldn’t have bumped into on the Croisette. Shout out to Lisa Ashurst who put so much time and effort into getting this group organised…and making sure they all got home safe and sound! As always, there is a policy of not publishing photos of the Bubble House so here’s one of a different kind of Bubble House (the Balloon Museum) that I visited with my wonderful partner and daughter as soon as I got back to London!

The other Bubble House!

If anyone is on the fence about MIPIM and wondering whether it’s worth the investment, I can wholeheartedly say it is. Some of the most important relationships in my life, personally and in business, have come from this little corner of France at this time of year. I think the motto of Tom Bloxham’s architect says it all… “Tout est Possible, Tout est Permis”!

Embarking for BE News Boat Trip