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MIPIM mood-music signals increased optimism

Dougal Paver

Dougal Paver

Liverpool and MIPIM have enjoyed something of an on-off relationship over the years.

Liverpool and MIPIM have enjoyed something of an on-off relationship over the years.

Economic circumstances or political timidity have seen the city reject or embrace the global property and investment festival with sometimes equal fervour.

This year’s event saw MIPIM return to something like its golden age after its two-year covid-inspired hiatus. Liverpool was once again in coquettish mood, having shown some ankle at last year’s modest ‘return’ event. 

La Croisette was back to its bustling best and stand-fasts such as Le Californie, Caffe Roma and Ma Nolan’s were thronged once more. Anyone would think it was 2008.

The city had a suitably visible pavilion on the beach-side promenade next to the Bunker (the ungenerous – though accurate – moniker for the main exhibition hall) and adjacent to the West Midlands, Newcastle, Manchester and London tents. Good. You can’t claim to be a player and then hide at MIPIM.

What was most interesting was the impression that the city left amongst the local delegates to whom I talked whilst out in Cannes. The consensus was that a welcome maturity had returned. Liverpool Labour’s new group leader, Cllr Liam Robinson, made a positive impression with his pro-business, pro-investment stance and his calm and moderate tone. Metro mayor Steve Rotherham was equally at ease amidst the players whose sentiment is vital to investment decision-making. Put simply, if Liverpool doesn’t feel right to these folk they sit quietly on the sidelines and wait. And for the last three or four years many have done just that. This year marked the point where they began to re-calibrate their opinions, it struck me and many others. A period of boring political normality may just be what the doctor ordered.

There was much talk about the impetus to be provided by the arrival of a new senior cohort amongst the city council’s officers and the presence of incoming regeneration chief Nuala Gallagher was very well received. Change the mood music and you can shift the dial on investor sentiment and the presence of the city’s new regeneration conductor certainly did that amongst the audience in the Cannes stalls.

More widely, the Liverpool delegation was large and in good form and reflected the general air of positivity about the place. Granted, the sunshine and Chablis helped, but the mood shift was palpable. The acid test, of course, is when developers bring ambitious projects forward at pre-app stage in the private confines of the Cunard Building. If the welcome is as positive as it was at MIPIM then we’ll see more tower cranes on our skyline. And then it really would feel like 2008.

Dougal Paver

Dougal Paver

Dougal Paver is managing director of PR and public affairs agency Merrion Strategy and a retained advisor to a range of national and regional developers and investors.
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