At every turn in MIPIM, planning is the key topic of conversation - the benefits of planning, the problems of planning, the complexities of planning.
It was with this in mind (and with the pleas of RTPI Members who were already out there) that the Chief Executive, Victoria Hills, and I took the decision that the Institute should go to MIPIM this year - to ensure our place in discussions with the public and private sector attendees and to take an international stage when we could.
We spoke up for planning in debates and discussions...We made a first step for 2019 onto an international stage in thought-leadership. The audience of MIPIM matters.
Squeezing the maximum into our time, we held our first meeting even before we arrived in Cannes.
Spotting Keith Mitchell of Peter Brett Associates on the same flight out, I invited him to share our ride into Cannes to talk about the work PBA are doing for the RTPI on the Great North Plan and Northern Powerhouse.
By the end of the first afternoon, we had already completed meetings with the Chief Executives and/or Leaders of Leeds, Bradford, Belfast, Mid&East Antrim, the Head of Housing and Planning for the West of England combined authority, the Deputy Chief Executive of Homes England, and Chris Brooke, the President of RICS.
Over a working dinner, discussions followed with the Ben Derbyshire, the President of RIBA and his Chief Executive, together with Patricia Brown, Vice Chair of the British Property Federation’s Development Committee, and the Assistant Development Director for Birmingham City Council.
The next morning started at the UK Government pavilion with the announcement of the Future Place winners, a joint initiative of RIBA, RTPI and the Local Government Association.
After this and a discussion with the Chief Executive of Homes England on their future growth, recruitment and apprenticeships, I chaired a roundtable discussion on town centre development issues (including the perils of permitted development rights) and PlanTech with Winckworth Sherwood.
Then straight onto a working lunch with Clyde & Co, plus Montagu Evans and CEG, followed by a reception with Town Legal, picking up matters such as planning appeal delays and pressures on the Planning Inspectorate.
Victoria Hills, Metro Mayors Steve Rotheram & Andy Burnham, & Ian Tant
Between the lunch and evening, Victoria and I continued our programme of meetings with local authority and city region colleagues, including the Chief Executive of Cardiff City, the Business Development team for the Sheffield City Region, and on the Liverpool stand, the Metro Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool - as well as finalising the RTPI’s response to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement.
The day rounded off with RTPI Members from Deloitte Real Estate, discussing, amongst other planning topics, recruitment and training issues.
The next day started with the Northern Powerhouse Breakfast where Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Pat Ritchie, Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council, alongside LEP Chairs, spoke on the need for infrastructure investment, HS2 and, in answer to my question, the importance of place-making in the vision for the North of England.
Taking in a few of the international stands (Moscow, Paris and Istanbul) on the way, it was time for engagement on the Newcastle stand with Pat Ritchie and colleagues presenting R&D opportunities in the North East and across the North.
At the invitation of JLL, my working lunch featured a fascinating, impromptu debate on land value capture involving JLL Director, Thomas Stevenson and representatives of Crest Nicholson and Millwood Designer Homes.
Ian Tant on the stage with Professor Sadie Morgan
Slipping away after the starter course, I was straight onto a stage in the main arena in a thought-leadership discussion with Professor Sadie Morgan and an international audience on infrastructure and smart cities.
Evening dinner featured a charity auction raising money for the Princes’ Foundation. With “Chicks with Bricks” as its headline, diversity was a major topic for discussion – so important to see the success of female role models for the future of our profession!
Our final meeting, utilising the last hour available to us on Friday morning, was spent on the Scotland is Now stand, discussing issues such as the Scottish Planning Bill and infrastructure programmes, with Scottish Enterprise.
So what did we achieve in all this?
We covered more ground in terms of meeting decision-makers across the UK in three days than we could probably have managed in a year back home.
We spoke up for planning in debates and discussions with public and private sectors and with international as well as UK developers. We made a first step for 2019 onto an international stage in thought-leadership.
And we were welcomed by government, local government and private sector organisations – and most importantly by RTPI Members present in MIPIM – as an important addition to UK’s representation in Cannes.
We placed the RTPI shoulder to shoulder with RICS and RIBA in playing an important, professional role at MIPIM.
The audience of MIPIM matters. It attracts many international investors, including those busily attending the various UK stands and hopefully doing business, Brexit notwithstanding. And it brings together decision-makers and opinion-formers away from their day-to-day pressures, willing and able to help in developing ideas, engaging in debates and meeting new people with a little more time to give for a few days at least.
Finally, a comment on diversity: as an international property convention, it’s taken some 30 years for MIPIM to mature and, frankly, civilise. Whilst white men in blue suits are still in the majority (mea culpa), there is now a refreshing involvement of powerful women in leadership roles to demonstrate the increasingly diverse property professions.
Yet the property industry as a whole still has a distance to go. We are on the road, but there is much further to travel in order to achieve better balance. The RTPI, with our Chief Executive – and, next year, our President – will make its contribution.