Business and civic leaders from across the region gathered at a preview event to celebrate Cheshire attending MIPIM, the world’s largest property convention.
The evening, hosted by law firm DTM Legal, provided a rallying point for partners who will be showcasing the region to investors at the four day event in Cannes, France.
MIPIM attracts over 25,000 property heavy weights from across the globe and is used by cities and regions to promote themselves.
After making a successful debut in 2016, Chester is returning to MIPIM for a second year, while Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will have a significant presence for the first time at the event.
Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Samantha Dixon, told the guests that 2016 was a fantastic year and there’s a positive story to tell at MIPIM: “Last year, we had an excellent start for the [new] Central Business District in Chester opening up with City Place, our partnership with Muse Developments really took off.
“And we have more fantastic things about to happen. The Council has taken forward a £300m development in Northgate, which we are really moving on track with and looking forward to taking forward even further this year – just two weeks ago we announced House of Fraser as one of its anchor tenants, which is fantastic news for the city.
“The new cultural centre Storyhouse opening in May is also gathering interest from across the country. The £37m investment is a new model bringing together library services, theatre services and cultural activity under one roof. It is a really exciting development right at the heart of the city centre and reinforces Chester’s place as an attractive city to visit, work and live in.”
Talking about why it’s so important for Cheshire to attend MIPIM, Guy Butler, Chairman of Chester Growth Partnership, which promotes investment in and development of Chester to deliver said: “MIPIM is quite extraordinary. It has everybody from the financial markets and property markets from across the whole of Europe, the Far East and America all in one place. So instead of spending weeks going through London and travelling all over the world to see these funders you get to see everybody all in four or five days.
“It is a chance to talk serious business and serious deals are done at MIPIM. At the moment, Chester has some serious opportunities to showcase. Of course we have the big opportunities like the Northgate development project which is looking for funding, but we also have smaller opportunities like the residential development and the student accommodation schemes – and even these are very large. They could be £30m, £40m, £50m. MIPIM provides us with the perfect platform to seek funding for these projects.”
Host for the evening, Sally Pilott, Partner at DTM Legal and Chair for the infrastructure team at Chester Growth Partnership, said: “Chester needs the investment. A lot of people think Chester is already a very prosperous place and as a small heritage city it won’t require further investment – but that’s not the case. We have a great history and a lot going on, but we want to make it more of a modern city too to attract younger people and families to stay here. We want to create a more vibrant night-time economy and invest in attractions which will appeal to different types of people to visit, work and live here.
“One of the major areas of investment needed is in infrastructure. The rail and road connectivity into Chester is something the Council is really focusing on with Growth Track 360, which is all about getting the connectivity through from North Wales to the Cheshire region and across to Crewe. And of course with the HS2 hub coming to Crewe it’s more important than ever that we get classic compatibility through to Crewe and then on to London.”
Henry Brooks, Executive Director at The Tatton Estate, the largest private landowner in Cheshire, also commented: “Cheshire has a fantastic story to tell at MIPIM. There are huge investment opportunities, which deliver a great return not only for the private sector, but also for the public sector. We are delighted to be able to go out to MIPIM this year to showcase the fantastic offer we have to property leaders and investors from across the world.”
Over 20 businesses have already committed to the Cheshire & Warrington stand, which will focus on the Northern Gateway Development Zone, a strategy to deliver more than 100,000 new homes and 120,000 new jobs. The NGDZ will capitalise on the UK Government’s investment in High Speed 2 (HS2), the new high speed rail link connecting the cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. A new brand for NGDZ will be unveiled in Cannes.
The capability and attractiveness of Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, which includes major Cheshire sites such as Thornton Science Park, and Alderley Park will also be showcased. It has the potential to attract around 20,000 new jobs and 500 businesses and presents a real opportunity to promote investment in the Borough on a national and international level.
Other highlights for the region to shout about to investors at the property convention include the Chester Northgate scheme, which is set to deliver around 500,000 sq ft of new retail, restaurant and leisure facilities, The Storyhouse, which represents a £37m investment in the arts and culture in the city, and City Place and Chester Business Park. Already home to the likes of Bank of America, Next Gear and M and S Money, City Place and Chester Business Park represents a major opportunity for North Shoring and Fin Tech investment.
The Chester delegation attending MIPIM 2017 includes representatives from Chester Growth Partnership, Muse Developments, Glenbrook, Graham Construction, Grosvenor Estate, Northgate, Fifield Glyn, Pochins, Pozzoni Architects, TEM Property Group, Anwyl, and Vinci Construction UK amongst others.