For a couple of contracting types it was the hot ticket of the week and for once the speakers lived up to the hype.
British Land chief exec Chris Grigg, Jones Lang LaSalles head of capital markets in the western USA Michael Zietsman, Barclays Capital real estate vice president Steve Sprigens and Croydon Council chief executive Jon Rouse joined BPF chief exec Liz Peace to ask the questions; whatever happened to development? And how can we get it going again?
Unsurprisingly there was no panacea and there will be no quick fix, but the event shone a light on some issues that many delegates here in Canne have been discussing.
When will developers be ready to develop, and where is it most likely to happen? What can local authorities do to help the process and attract developers to their areas? When will banks regain their appetite for lending on property? And what is happening in the US, and what lessons can we learn for
On the first point there was little debate.
London is where it is happening and London is where it will stay. For now.
But each offered an interesting perspective on the other issues at hand.
For Mr Grigg is was about bank lending, planning, climbing London rents and a new “Darwinianism” for local authorities.
He predicted “increasing pressure on the economics of schemes,” more developer and sovereign wealth fund JVs and a new approach by developers to only work with local authorities that were being pro active in the new funding and planning environment.
He pleaded with people to “get realistic about development and stop living in the past.”
And he fired some strong warnings about the “broken social housing model” while pointing to surging international investment in London residential.
Croydon’s Jon Rouse hinted some long stalled schemes may finally be making moves and said his council had managed to “protect every penny of our capital programme” in a bid to protect new infrastructure projects.
Barclay’s real estate vice president Steve Sprigens was candid in his approach and told delegates their schemes would only get lending if they could show pre lets, good track records and cash flow and said relationships would help schemes on a knife edge make it through.
And Mr Zietsman provided a useful US perspective to explode the myth that Tax Increment Finance would be the solution many hoped arguing it was usually used in areas developers weren’t interested in and where there wasn’t enough demand.