Placemaking and high street regeneration strong themes at MIPIM UK

Posted on 19 October 2018

AshfordFor’s Economic Development Officer Hannah Clayton-Peck was at MIPIM UK this week, flying the flag for Ashford, digesting all the latest insight from the property industry and looking at examples of best practice.

Kicking off day one Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Investment, set the tone for with lots of local authorities, agents and property professionals attending his presentation on breaking down the barriers to success.

The next keynote discussed whether property is responding to the millennial generation, a theme which resonated throughout the event. Deborah Cadman, CEO of the West Midlands Combined Authority talked about how inclusive growth that’s affordable and efficient is critical.

Regeneration requires a holistic approach and as Pooja Agrawal, Co-founder of Public Practice, the not-for-profit social enterprise, said “the high street needs to respond as the solution to social infrastructure.” Millennials aren’t the answer but a necessary question to ask. The instant nature of this generation must be met, but their future needs considered.

Next, my colleague Andrew and I headed to the London stand to hear about Placemaking, a strong theme with Local Authorities. The issues facing London landowners around shaping great places was a strong theme here. Another subject that came up throughout the conference and especially in this panel was the challenge of combining policy with connectivity, capacity and character.

Use classes was another topic in terms of the empowerment of planning and the Head of Paddington Central from British Land, Tim Haddon said “Mixed use is what keeps places alive and creates the story”.

‘The Changing Face of the High Street’ session asked ‘is there a case for intervention and what form should that take?’ This is something close to Ashford’s heart with our town centre evolving – the new Elwick Place development, new national brands being attracted into County Square and our 2015 purchase of Park Mall are great examples of visible regeneration.

The key message here was about creating what people need and building around it. High streets are a Victorian concept, the age of our last industrial revolution.

Now, we need to create places around when people are there, filled with services people need and products people want. This is an opportunity to test, now is a chance for innovation. Business rates reform is crucial to stimulating independent business and use classes should be ditched was the view of Sara Bailey, Head of Real Estate at Trowers and Hamlins.

The panel consisted of Roger Southam at EightyNine Solutions, Sara Bailey from Trowers and Hamlins, Mike Stiff at Stiff and Trevillion, Andy Street Mayor of the West Midlands and Hillary Watts from Colliers International. The conclusion was that making a difference requires business rate reform and power to the people.

Travelling back to Ashford on the high speed train, there’s lots of food for thought. But one thing’s for sure, all of MIPIM UK’s messaging was totally Ashford. To make a place takes work, consideration and careful planning – Ashford is combining these ingredients to secure a bright future.

Main picture: Ashford’s stand at MIPIM UK 2015