NI Blog: Reflections from the MIPIM property conference
Joe Moore, partner at Belfast firm Tughans, reflects on the MIPIM property conference in Cannes.
Between the 14th to 17th of March 2017 some 70 delegates from the NI property industry found themselves in the sunnier climes of Cannes to attend MIPIM, billed as the world’s largest property conference. They joined together to promote Belfast as part of Belfast City Council’s co-ordinated campaign to encourage further investment in the city. Many others from Belfast were also attending independently. The cumulative effect of this clearly displays Belfast’s confident image of a city in growth mode.
The Estates Gazette has reported Belfast as the second-fastest FDI growing city in the UK, behind only London. Major employers such as Citi Group have also recently reaffirmed their continued commitment to Belfast and others, such as Signature Living, have announced significant investment plans. Signature Living’s acquisition of Crumlin Road Courthouse as part of a £25m hotel conversion evidence the fact that investment is not focused solely on the city centre’s professional and financial industries. The benefits of a growing city can be reaped far and wide.
Deloitte’s Crane Survey 2017 highlights development across the varied residential, office, retail, hotel and student accommodation sectors. It shows the spread of activity from what it describes as the Southern Fringe to the Inner North and out to Titanic Quarter; not to mention the new Transport Hub. The announcement at MIPIM of plans for Weaver’s Cross, the new Transport Hub off Great Victoria Street, described the scheme as a new neighbourhood connecting Belfast City Centre to the airports in Dublin and Belfast. As Belfast continues to grow, links such as these will be essential in reaching out to FDI partners not to mention the other benefits that a more connected city can harvest.
On 20th of March 2017 the Department of Finance announced a £100m investment initiative to encourage investment in private sector-led development. Belfast City Council has welcomed the announcement which, it says, will complement the council’s own plans for a new fund targeting Grade A office development in the city. Details of this additional fund are expected in the coming weeks. Watch this space.
There are, of course, many headline-grabbing developments afoot such as the 250,000 sq ft Grade A offices at One Bankmore Square, being the £65m project at the Movie House cinema site on Dublin Road, Belfast. There is also the £26.5m Grade A Olympic House development planned for Titanic Quarter to commence in Autumn 2017. However, there are also a number of quieter but no less important developments such as the office and retail refurbishment of River House on Belfast’s High Street. Together, all of these projects are combining to enhance Belfast’s image and landscape.
There has been much positive talk of Belfast’s property market over recent months and years with some quietly concerned about the “talk versus action” debate. Yet, despite significant political turmoil at present, there now appears to be a genuine Spring in the air.