This was of particular interest to RISE as our business expands outside of our regular markets of London and the South West, where we’ve been busy for the past 6 years.
This year both Manchester and the Midlands took major exhibition space outside of the main conference centre with Manchester setting up a very minimalist (maybe too much) beach front marquee alongside London. This was the final year we will see Howard Bernstein attend the event as Chief Executive of Manchester, his farewell event was well attended and there was an air of sadness about the end of such a progressive era of development and modernisation under Howards watch. His message was, it’s only just begun.
The Midlands Engine rolled into town and combined many counties to present a good overall offer, however with such a consistent presentation of all those different counties (Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, and Lincolnshire)… it was difficult to see any clear water between each county. Maybe a bit more individualism in the stands, as London do, would help differentiate next time around.
Regional and the London Stand were again full of councillors and city representatives who preached the benefits of investing in their area however the sentiment from many of the developers in attendance was that the message was not getting down from the top, to the troops on the ground within the planning teams who still act on personal preference rather than on the back of an agreed published plan where developers had visibility of what they are working towards. – On the topic of City plans, whilst it was a consistent comment that almost every region and City in the UK lacked a detailed plan, one city leading the way globally is Singapore who have a defined 2050 plan, with physical model, outlining their expectations including, heights, locations and mixes.
A few other UK regions continued to stay in the main conference centre where it is easy to get lost amongst a Middle Eastern developer and a Cowboy developer (see the Nevada stand, giving out free cowboy hats). Leeds, Glasgow and others remained in the ‘bunker’ but if there were others it proves my point that they were difficult to find.
Time will tell if presenting these opportunities combined or individually or within the main conference or alongside works but certainly this year there was a big shift for the UK to separate itself from the rest of the world without really knowing the consequences – sound familiar?