Fishy Business : MIPIM UK Summit in London

Yesterday and today the MIPIM UK Summit came to town and was held at Old Billingsgate (the original site of the fish market from 1875 to 1982). We sense a theme coming on….

What is MIPIM? Some basic background

For those unfamilar with it, MIPIM stands for “Le marché international des professionels de l’immobillier” (that’s the international market of real estate professionals in English).

This luxury international property fair is not some harmless nice little event with a fortunate few wealthy individuals looking to buy and/or build their dream holiday home abroad and having a glass of wine and canapės whilst meeting and greeting professionals and touring the stands – this is an event held annually in Cannes centred around large scale planning, development and regeneration matters, populated with many types of architects, house builders, international property developers, real estate corporations, quangos, local government representatives and housing professionals with big plans, big ideas big deals and with big price tags for potential developments and redevelopments in many cities around the world – particularly London.

As these people are having fun in the sun brokering deals that may appear to be investments – some of the arrangements and connections made at these conferences could be the beginning of the end of some communities. For some residents living in social housing this is no beach holiday.

MIPIM turned 30 years old this year, but it has aged rather more like fish than wine, and has gained a rather a sleazy reputation in other ways too. We found this posted on one site:

Before setting off to the conference it is best not to leave your copy of Private Eye lying around the house for a partner to see when it describes MIPIM as a ‘booze and hooker fest’.

Also this from the Guardian:

The organisers of MIPIM, the property industry’s annual “champagne, yachts and fun” bash in Cannes, have repeatedly warned delegates to “respect all individuals” and reminded the 25,000 attendees that “under no circumstances does MIPIM register prostitutes”.

“What other industry on the face of the earth in 2018 needs to remind businessmen that they can’t bring prostitutes to an industry conference,” asked Jane, a 29-year-old delegate from Manchester. “That alone tells you how backward property is.”

No trawling in our backyards!

MIPIM started hosting summits here in London in 2014. In fact the first one was in Olympia – rather too close to home for us.

MIPIM events have served as networking opportunities for the London Authority, local councils (and housing associations have become a more frequent player in these goings on ) brokering deals and seeking money for their area, but this comes at a price – and the price to pay usually means a vast reduction in the number of homes for social housing included in the replacement development – and sometimes even none at all for social rent as the big fish chase after maximum profit.

Many of the shiny new replacement “affordable” homes on regeneration schemes that have gone ahead that some residents had been initially misled into thinking they would be living in, have instead been unaffordable and in some cases ended up in hands of “buy to leave” investors, while residents end up either being priced out of or displaced away from their communities, which are all too often carved up or completely destroyed as a result of these projects

Man overboard

The above picture is of current Prime Minister (Mayor of London back then) is of Boris Johnson speaking at the opening of the first MIPIM UK summit at Olympia in 2014.

In 2011, the Earl’s Court Masterplan had been showcased at MIPIM by developers Capco (Capital and Counties) in Cannes. The redevelopment (spanning both RBKC and LBHF ) had proposed most ly luxury homes and only including just 11% homes designated as “affordable” and none for social rent at all.

At the time the Government’s District Valuer Service had questioned the viability of the project, but Boris Johnson along with RBKC and the former Conservative administration at LBHF approved it afterwards without question.

Capco (a company experienced mainly in retail- based developments) suffered financially from the downturn in the luxury homes housing market, the world famous Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre was demolished (causing small businesses in the area to suffer), the site is currently worth only half its original value.

Troubled Capco back in 2014 owned Olympia – they sold it in 2017 to a consortium of German investors and this year Gary Yardley has jumped ship citing “health reasons” (seasickness?!)

When Johnson approved the redevelopment he hailed the scheme as a “landmark” . Well, here for him, is a sobering picture of that “landmark” taken by us just the other day:

Maybe Bozo and his pals had been knocking back too much champagne at too many of these shindigs when they imagined all this would be a good idea?

The tide might be turning

We have heard some recent good news regarding the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates, located within the Earl’s Court redevelopment area, many of whose residents have been fighting against the regeneration from the start. LBHF (under Labour control since 2014) has given the go ahead for a compulsory purchase order on their estates.

This could potentially further throw the Masterplan into more doubt.

We do remind people unfamiliar with the area however that this does not necessarily guarantee a future for all 77 acres of the site – which is jointly owned by Capco and TFL. 22 acres of the site are in RBKC and now Capco are now looking for another developer to purchase their share.

But this is more than very encouraging for the outstanding campaigning residents of West Ken and Gibbs Green – and we wish them every success with tbis – plus it gives others facing regeneration a glimmer of hope.

Rotten fish, rotten boroughs and bad memories

We are guessing that Olympia is too near Grenfell for some of these slippery creatures to carry out their networking unnoticed. Yesterday was the 14th of October and exactly 28 months since 72 members of our community lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire. We guess most of the people behind MIPIM do not have consciences let alone memories, so we will remind some that MIPIM is where some at RBKC networked with Rydon. – the firm that carried out a lot of the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.

Yet still today, the rotten stench of developers fishing around at these events to make financial capital out of selling up, selling off and ultimately doing urban areas out of social capital (the communities who live there) gets ever worse.

“Who’s going to MIPIM?” (Ft L to R: Sir Merrick Cockell, Peter Bingle , Rock Feilding-Mellen, Daniel Moylan, Adam Jogee, Claire Kober, Nick Paget-Brown, Angela McConville & Alan Strickland

Some familiar big fish

No representatives from RBKC there this year (as far as we know) but they have attended MIPIM in the past . Long before us, our friends at the Grenfell Action Group were on the case back then:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/rbkc-snouts-in-the-mipim-trough/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/11/13/rbkc-supping-at-the-property-developers-table/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/rbkc-and-mipim-the-search-for-the-truth/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/paget-brown-and-mipim/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/rocky-mipim-and-the-lobbyist/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/paget-brown-digging-his-own-grave/

Also Angela McConville, former Chief Executive of the Westway Trust had an all expenses paid (our expenses) trip to Cannes:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/mcconville-at-mipim/

And here is a rogues gallery ( by no means complete) list of some other London local authorities that have sent representatives to MIPIM over recent years :

– Southwark

– Ealing

– Newham

Enfield

– Waltham Forest

Greenwich

– Barking and Dagenham

Hounslow

Harrow

Westminster

– Kingston

Croydon

Havering

– Bexley

Lambeth

Haringey

Lewisham

Hillingdon

Housing associations, moving increasingly further away their once commendable and charitable origins have also been a presence at MIPIM. Here are just a few of them:

– L & Q

– Clarion

– Catalyst

– Notting Hill Genesis

– Peabody

A2Dominion

– Swan Housing

– Places For People

– One Housing

Swimming further out (and some further reading)

With regards to regeneration projects elsewhere in London , we recommend excellent South London blog Southwark Notes to our readers. This timeline of the Elephant and Castle/Heygate Estate regeneration is a must-read:

https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/heygate-estate/heygate-timeline/

Radical Housing Network have plenty of very informative and interesting articles on MIPIM. We highly recommend paying their website a visit

https://radicalhousingnetwork.org/tag/mipim-2/

Hook, line and sinker

The “net” apoears to be cast wider every year, with many more communities outside London in recent times also facing an uncertain future. Still, regardless of Brexit or any other factors, the big boats still go trawling for big business there with no signs of stopping.

The event also brings councils and councillors and others who might be not all come with bad intentions, but could find themselves out of their depth and end up making deals which sell communities down the river. If we were residents in parts of Birmingham or Liverpool for example (big attendees tbis year) that have been earmarked for regeneration we would be sleeping with one eye open. “Opportunity Areas” usually translates to “money making for developers opportunity areas”

All at sea

Boris Johnson was not there, but he has provided MIPIM with a letter of endorsement. Here it is:

Note the lack of reference to social housing anywhere in his letter. And as for communities “having more power” in these huge corporate developer-led regenerations – is he taking the p-?

But two of the “special guest speskers” at this year’s MIPIM UK are Government ministers. One is Esther McVey. Minister of State for Housing for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The other is Graham Stuart, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Trade.

A sea of protesters

Since MIPIM summits were held on our shores, the number of people from communities under threat of regeneration has grown vastly and so has the number of protesters.

The unwelcome reception and bad publicity they get can means that not too many elected public figures are not necessarily too keen to be seen turning up to MIPIM these days.

Unsurprisingly most residents and small businesses in communities facing regeneration regardless of whether they happen to live in social housing or not, do not welcome this here.

And while Boris’ successor as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has made little noises here and there – he has actually done nothing to go towards redressing the problem. In fact, a number of senior figures at the GLA are big approvers and collaborators in these schemes, as our “London Trilogy” last year pointed out.

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/who-really-runs-london/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/david-lunch-lunts-the-mr-creosote-of-the-gla/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/more-terrapins-in-the-tank-at-the-city-hall-of-shame/

The many housing campaigners and residents groups protesting have ensured their disapproval of this event and the despicable practices of the big players in this have registered loud and clear by all attendees. Above is a picture from the protest yesterday.

Even when there is a real crisis regarding the lack of social and genuinely affordable housing, it appears that unscrupulous developers and politicians are putting the “price of fish” over the priceless real true value of our communities and the residents and local businesses who really make them work.

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