Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

London’s Parks; Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

London has some amazing parks. This morning I took a run along the Regents canal, into Regents park and up to the top of Primrose Hill. The view from there over the city is quite something.

Primrose HillYesterday I was over in Stratford, East London and took a brief walk into the newly opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is an impressive place. The Aquatics centre stands out; it looks stunning with its free-flowing form – and the removal of the temporary ‘door stop’ shaped seating stands used for the Olympics. The stadium is being reconfigured at present to form it’s long-term 60,000 seater set up for West Ham.

London Aquatics CentreStanding next to the stadium is the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower. An oddity of a structure in my view. I’ve never been a fan of this ‘thing’ which was my friend Boris Johnson’s mark on the games. It was conceived by Anish Kapoor as Art, but required the functionality of a building. Kapoor has created some outstanding Art creations, but even he struggled with this project in relation to the regulatory constraints imposed. However this structure proves to me that Art and Architecture cannot become one. The two can sit together and enhance each other, but putting them together into one simply doesn’t work, especially here!

ArcelorMittal OrbitI was asked if I’d like to go up it for free – normally it costs £15, but someone had a spare ticket. I took the lift to the top and enjoyed the views of London, The Westfield shopping centre, the impressive new park below me – and an awful lot of nothingness around it. This place will evolve in time I’m sure, but for now there’s a way to go in creating a ‘place’ where people live and work; a community.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic ParkI quite like the new QEO Park. Having experienced the ‘Orbit’ I am still very much a critic on that. They’ve certainly spent some money on the new park! It’s right for London to grow/ evolve the story of it’s parks; it’s a defining and characterful part of London.


My MIPIM 2014

It’s been another busy and exhausting, but enjoyable and productive, trip to Cannes for me. This is my third consecutive year at MIPIM and I’d say this trip has been my most successful to date in terms of outcomes. The really important bit now is the follow-up’s. The atmosphere has been better as well; London is booming and there are strong signs of a return to property investment and development in the regions going forward.

Beyond the many meetings and getting some great new contacts/ leads/ intel and opportunities, some of my defining highlights this week for me have included;

– Getting a selfie with Boris Johnson! – Not sure who the Photo-bomber was!? You can see the MIPIM keynote address by the Mayor of London by clicking here.
– The excellent Shedmasters lunch up in the hills.
– Dinner with friends of Innes England and Cricket legend Derek Randall.
– Meeting footballer, turned Property Developer, Gary Neville on the Manchester stand.
– Lunch with Willmott Dixon and Louise Brooke-Smith, who will be appointed global President of RICS later this year.
– Getting some good Twitter coverage in terms of retweets.
– Seeing the Invest in Nottingham video to promote the City. It’s edgy, fresh and dynamic – click here to see it
– Finding the ‘New London’ App recently launched by the NLA and Estates Gazette. It’s an interactive map of all London boroughs and provides key information on all major developments – a very useful tool to have. You can download it by clicking here.

One of the most interesting points I picked up this week was from Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash. I spoke to him a few days ago and asked “what does the future hold for urban living?” He explained that during the Industrial Revolution the factories dominated the cities and that peoples class/ wealth determined how far out of the city they could live. Today, thanks to cities like Manchester, people are living in the city centres again. This has wide ranging economic benefits. For city living to be sustainable long term, a greater degree of diversity is required to provide housing for ALL ages/ needs, this should include older people and of course young families. A key component missing in most regional City centres these days is schools. If these can be provided, then the diversity and economy of our cities will continue to grow.

Here’s a few photos from this year…






What makes MIPIM unique?

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed by since I was last in Cannes for MIPIM; The international property conference. It’s a big event attracting around 25,000 delegates from around the world. The theme of course is Property Development and people from every area of the sector come along to network and seek deals and opportunities. High profile attendees this year include; Boris Johnson, The Candy brothers and ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville, who will be talking about his development company.

mipim25Two very common questions I often get asked…

What is so special about MIPIM?
Why go to Cannes to meet people from the UK?

If you’ve not been, it’s perhaps easy to imagine that this is a jolly. It’s certainly set in a stunning location where the sun is shining and there is a lot of money floating around; expensive hotels and restaurants, big boats and fast cars. But, being here in my third year now, I can tell you that it’s hard work. People are here for a good reason; to do business. I have over 30 appointments in my diary over the next 3 days. I will be up and out by around 7am and back again after midnight. It’s a marathon. My intention is simple; to return with as many contacts and leads as possible.

The entire MIPIM event is unique. The environment sets the scene for a very different mindset. People, generally representing the top of their respective organisations, are away from their day-to-day working routines. There are no boardroom formalities and people aren’t thinking about a hundred other things. Generally people are here to focus on the job in hand. Therefore you can connect with people so much more easily – and they are much more receptive to talking. This is what makes MIPIM special.

I’m representing my new company WCEC this year, in only my second week with the company! We have some great experience and current projects to talk about this week. Our company has been built up through our long standing partnerships with Morrisons and Asda. This has enabled us to build a strong port-folio of town centre regeneration, supermarkets, convenience stores, mixed-use regeneration and also logistics/ industrial, to name just a few. Beyond that our recent work has included hotels, leisure and residential.

Residential has been a big growth area for the business in recent years. Our teams are currently working on a number of high-profile urban developments in London and the South East. Our signature project at present is Royal Wharf in the Docklands, the first phase of which is worth £250m. We have also built up a team delivering Permitted Development projects for Office to Residential conversions.

Delivering all of the above, is a focused and diverse team of around 120 staff offering a broad range of group services. A key one at present being BIM (Building Information Modelling). We have been actively involved in BIM for around 8 years now – there’s probably not that many architects who can say that! Until last week my knowledge of BIM was pretty limited. It strikes me that there is a lot of ‘talk’ about BIM, but a lot of people probably don’t understand it and are certainly not well placed to effectively deliver it. I am in no doubt; BIM is the future to delivering buildings and running them for their lifetime. WCEC are delivering projects for all our clients in BIM, using Revit and a number of other programmes. We believe we have developed a real expertise in BIM, so we have a separate consultancy which provides services to the wider construction sector. This is in big demand at present.

Whilst I’m over here, in between my meetings, I’ll be seeking an overview of the property markets. What’s the forecast? Is London really over heating? Are the regions coming back? I’ll be spending time at the London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds stands. I’ll also be seeing my good friends and acquaintances at “Team Talented Nottingham” to learn more about Nottingham and the East Midlands plans. You can see the brand new Invest in Nottingham website here. They also have a MIPIM specific website here.

Royal WharfI’ll be blogging a bit more through the week, as and when I get a few moments…?