Usually a headline act, Boyle & Summers attended MIPIM this year, as backing vocals for Central South, that bit of England between London & the South East and the South West. In this special part of the country, there are unrivalled opportunities for investment; Freeport status, land availability, public and private sector led development, housing need and levelling up requirements, all of which are there to drive regeneration. Two National Parks, World Heritage sites, England’s best beaches and brilliant cultural, sport and leisure offers, together with extensive education and employment opportunities, all drive demand. Promoting the region was an easy sell.
For 5 days, there was a corner of a foreign field, that was forever Central South England: stand P1-J10 at the Palais Des Festivals to be exact, located between Brazil and Dudley. The Central South mission comprised over 30 delegates from County Councils, City Councils, District Councils, public bodies, local businesses, property developers, contractors, designers and property professionals, all with the sole aim of promoting our region. It is an understated, yet great achievement that Central South has gathered the key players in the region, to work together for a common purpose. This gives our region a cohesive, locally endorsed, political, economic and social vision, which appeared to be very attractive for potential investors.
I had previously visited MIPIM in 2007, in 15 years the mood has changed, for the better. The industry seems more empathetic, more human. There seemed a far higher regard for the principles of ESG than one and a half decades ago and you could be excused for concluding the world was becoming a kinder place. Then I turned a corner into a small crowd looking at a stand all boarded up with apologies for absence from 30 or so companies and organisations that were all due to be at MIPIM to promote their country, Ukraine. It was a sobering and chilling moment, where all the positive energy of the property festival seemed to ebb away. In the light of this heightened perspective it was difficult to see the value in our work as architects and masterplanners. One can, perhaps, only endeavour to strive for creating, and physically building, a better world over time.