By David Cockcroft, assistant director (city centre and development services), Coventry City Council
Everyone who attends MIPIM always has to fight off the sniggers about a few days in the sunshine in France – but equally they know that if they have done it properly, it means long hours and plenty of work.
Coventry has been – so I gather – at the show for 17 years and was one of the first UK cities to push its wares to the worldwide property market.
We know, and have evidence, that the approach of recent years when the council and the private sector have pooled their collective resources it has brought rewards.
But this year that evidence if very tangible and very fresh. And it is thanks to some table place planners!
A year ago at a dinner down here, we met a development company called Barberry. It had not been active in the city but it liked the fact that we were at the show, were confident of what we had to offer and knew that proactive partnerships with the private sector was essential.
Directly as a result of that meeting, Barberry Developments looked at the possibility of working in the city.
It has, since then bought, a former Royal Mail sorting office and is about to apply for consent for a 400,000 sq ft scheme to incorporate a supermarket superstore, a fitness centre and associated on-site car parking. A £50m development [click here for story].
Who says networking doesn’t pay off?
It just means I am going to ensure I give everyone I sit next to at MIPIM my full and undiluted attention. You just never know what might happen!
Of course, there is a great debate over local authorities attending MIPIM and, in many ways, so there should. But then again, the same should apply inside private companies and I would suspect there has been closer scrutiny this year than ever before.
We do come here this year with an added, but very welcome, stamp in our passports. Coventry is now a “2012 Host Council” which to you and me, means that we have the Olympics coming to Coventry.
Our Ricoh Arena – which will be renamed the City of Coventry Stadium for the duration of the games – will be the first venue in England to host 2012 when the football tournament kicks off there two days before the official opening ceremony.
Boris Johnson always appears to be omni-present at MIPIM and I am sure this year will be no exception. And in the spirit of spreading 2012 goodwill well beyond London, we may well invite him to come and watch a match in Coventry, although I fear he may be busy closer to home.
While the Olympics are providing a springboard for us to spend around £7m on city centre improvements, which have to be done in 14 short months, they will also have a fantastic boost on our image and international recognition. That is happening already this year, so by the time we come to MIPIM next year – (provided we do) we will been even more on the international map.
And that, when all said and done, is what it is all about.