Today illustrated the value of MIPIM for a region like ours.
Many people will know that we have been working with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and other partners on Transforming Nuneaton, a project aimed at regenerating one of our most important towns.
Everyone recognises the qualities and attributes of Nuneaton and certainly – in terms of economic potential – it has many of the core things you would need.
It is really well located for London and the rest of the West Midlands, its economic performance is improving and it sits in a highly successful region.
Yet everyone also recognises that the town centre is in need of help due to the changing nature of the High Street but also under-investment.
The Transforming Nuneaton initiative has attracted £7.5 million of Local Growth Fund financing through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and all parties are working well together.
But it is one thing to look at a local scheme from a local perspective but it is vitally important to get external advice and MIPIM offers that in bucketloads.
We assembled a panel of nationally-based developers, agents and architects to give their opinion on our approach – and they were honest and constructive.
Their messages were clear – we need to have a stronger vision and, above all, we need to be bold.
And we are determined to be bold as we owe that to the people of Nuneaton.
That might be bold in terms of the development we attract, the design of the buildings we want to help create and also bold in the uses of those schemes.
The old retail model is clearly broken and we need to think differently in everything we do. Other towns and cities have done it. Worcester and Altrincham were cited as two examples of centres which have used different models to generate footfall.
A few of those national experts had not been to Nuneaton, but some had and they could undoubtedly see the potential.
They have sent us away with plenty of things to think about – and they have promised to visit and continue what was a really valuable dialogue.
Caption: Monica Fogarty, Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Council