For those planning on attending the annual property conference Mipim this week, the fact it is in dreary old London rather than sunny Cannes is not the only change in normal proceedings.
The trade show, which expects to welcome 4,000 property delegates to its Olympia location, is being targeted by groups including anti-gentrification campaigners, empty homes protesters, unions and residents to highlight the rising cost of housing, arguing developers are lining their pockets while pricing many people out of the market.
Protestors are hoping to block the roads around the conference to prevent London Mayor Boris Johnson's opening address tomorrow with a co-ordinated plan of attack called #BlockBoris.
The Radical Housing Network, an umbrella organisation of groups seeking housing justice, is organising the protest, which will include video messaging, social media protests and a good old-fashion demonstration.
The organiser's Facebook page said:
Boris likes to play the popular clown, but with ten of thousands of London families on council house waiting lists, and communities across the city facing eviction and displacement at the hands of profiteering developers, the mayor has attended Mipim year on year to help his real friends make the deals that are causing misery to millions. Let's stop him.
While Mipim is offering seminars such as “Carrots or sticks: The best ways to incentivise development” and “What are investors looking for in the shed spaces of today and tomorrow” - not to forget the “mint cake reception with Tim Farron MP, president of the Liberal Democrats” - the counter-conference takes a slightly different tone.
The Cities for People, Not for Profit has sessions including “Blocking evictions: reclaiming the capital and state” and “Councils – capitalists – the State: What is the object of our resistance?”.
Other parties have been equally active preparing for Mipim's London debut.
Unite the union has issued a document explaining why it wants people to “say No to Mipim UK”, which also urges them to #BlockBoris.
“The UK is in the grip of a housing crisis. 30 years of treating housing as a vehicle for speculative investment has caused this crisis,” it says.
“Successive governments have slashed budgets for council housing. Meanwhile property developers like those at Mipim UK build as little non-market housing as they can get away with, often using public land.”