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President's Piece March 2016

Date: 21/3/2016

"I have recently returned from that strange annual event, MIPIM (don't ask me to translate the acronym!). It is, in plain English, the "must attend" international property conference for all built environment professionals and developers in the delightful setting of the Cotes d'Azur, Cannes in the South of France. Sounds like an excuse for a jolly in the sun. But the reality is an extraordinary gathering of planners, architects, surveyors, businesses/developers and local authorities to sell their wares and key regeneration projects to the world and Europe, of course enhanced with Mediterranean views and a tipple of good French wine occasionally.

I met a distinguished audience at the London Stand with huge city models and new sky scraper proposals, the exciting and new Old Oak Common/HS2 project was on full display for the first year promoting massive regeneration and extraordinary rapid planning in West London. I visited Manchester's grand stand with a confident devolved cities delegation, engaged London Borough planners from Barking & Dagenham, Croydon, Ealing, Hounslow and City of London; heard stridennt and exciting plans for devo-cities in UK cities of Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh. I visited international grand plans for Paris and Istanbul and met my European planning opposites.

Most importantly, we debated, engaged and swapped copius notes on how to plan our towns, cities and countryside during an increasingly uncertain and fast changing world. But, despite this nervousness about the future, be it housing and planning bill reforms, Mayoral and local elections, EU referendum vote or economic headwinds from the Far East, there was a mood of excitement, anticipation and high expectation that planners, property professionals, local authorities and developers in partnership across the globe, can make real beneficial change to our urban and rural environments, whilst learning and sharing from each other. What a fantastic "village of planning ideas exchange!"

Now back in the more sober environs of cloudy UK we just need to put that learning and ideas into practice. Oh, and before I forget, we enjoyed an unexpected drop in visit from the Housing & Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis who gazed with amazement over each UK cities stands and regeneration projects. With such a captured audience one couldn't miss the opportunity to pose the Minister some pertinent questions on the H&P Bill! What a wonderful opportunity. Roll on MIPIM 2017!"

Stewart Murray, President 2015/16

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