Business

Belfast City Council to continue funding attendance at Cannes property event

MIPIM is a four-day real estate exhibition, conference and networking event, that typically attracts around 27,000 property professionals to Cannes.
MIPIM is a four-day real estate exhibition, conference and networking event, that typically attracts around 27,000 property professionals to Cannes. MIPIM is a four-day real estate exhibition, conference and networking event, that typically attracts around 27,000 property professionals to Cannes.

BELFAST City Council will continue sending delegates to property investment conferences in New York and the south of France after an £80,000 package was approved on Monday night.

The funding will see delegates from the council travel to Cannes in March 2024 for the next MIPIM conference.

The four-day event typically brings together around 27,000 professionals, including institutional property investors and developers.

Belfast City Council has also backed having a presence at the ‘New York 2023 Real Estate Investment Showcase’.

But the decision to continue funding participation in the events drew opposition from the Green Party, SDLP, TUV and People Before Profit on Monday night.

Green councillors Anthony Flynn and Áine Groogan both spoke out against the funding package and later took to social media to criticise other parties for backing the move after airing their concerns in the chamber.

The £80,000 will be sourced from the council’s existing and approved city regeneration and development budget.

Read more:

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Belfast City Council has traditionally held MIPIM up as an important event for attracting potential investors to the city.

One highest profile developers brought to Belfast in recent years on the back of MIPIM was Lawrence Kenwright.

After meeting the Belfast delegation in Cannes in 2016, the Liverpool developer’s plan for five hotels in the city was held up as a major success story arising from the conference.

Some parties continue to pay lipservice to their alleged opposition to MIPIM. They play to the gallery but are really quite happy with it as long as there's *just* enough distance so they can claim they never supported it when something goes wrong. It's disingenuous. https://t.co/RsBDwsLWKg

Mr Kenwright later fell out with Belfast City Council and his company Signature Living collapsed in 2020 without completing any hotels.

However, other project have progressed, including Oakland Holdings' 175-unit aparthotel on Queen Street.

First announced at MIPIM in 2019, the project is due to open on October 16 as Belfast Hometel.

Defending the spend on MIPIM on Monday, the chief executive of Belfast City Council, John Walsh told councillors: “The truth of the matter is we are fishing in a global market for investment. We are in a competition for that investment with other cities.”

Mr Walsh, who previously attended MIPIM, said Belfast was in competition with cities such as Cardiff, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester, who are all represented.

“Important discussions with funders take place there,” he said.

“We are also being seen to support our local development community in terms of trying to bring development forward.

“The city is in a position now where it is prime for growth and with that growth comes benefits," he added.

"I don’t believe in trickle-down economics by any means, but I do believe that in that growth are benefits that are there for all of our citizens and to make this place better.

“A growth in the rate base allows us to make greater investment in terms of communities."