Today marks the start of the world’s leading property exhibition taking place in the south of France – and I’ll be there representing the City.
At Mipim, as the exhibition is known, we have a packed programme promoting the Square Mile to key industry players; from property developers, international investors, and government ministers, to business stakeholders from 100 countries.
Brexit does continue to present its challenges. We have made it clear that we need a deal that works for the City, and our expectations for the negotiations are clear. We are urgently pressing for a clear transitional deal, a free trade agreement including financial services, and assurances that we will be able to continue attracting talented people.
So Brexit will of course be high on the agenda, but the message is positive. Last week, figures from one our reports, The City as a Place for People, conducted in partnership with the City Property Association, revealed that 89 per cent of global institutional investors view London as having the best pool of talent for financial services in Europe.
Last month, the City Corporation granted LandSec planning permission for Deutsche Bank’s new HQ at Moorgate. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Canada, Fidelity, Hermes Investment Management, Schroders, and Japanese giant Sumitomo Mitsui are among other global financial institutions that have recently moved or expanded their office space in the City.
More interesting are the organisations not immediately associated with traditional finance. Amazon, Deliveroo, Innovate UK, Saatchi & Saatchi, Dell, Heritage England, and Framestore are among the tech, media and advertising groups recently committed to the City.
So what’s going on?
First, the London economy is proving more resilient than expected, and the prospect of a transitional deal has given companies the confidence to commit to new offices in London. Knight Frank recently said that the central London office market was far more active in 2017 than in 2016, with 4.1m square feet leased.
Second, the lines are blurring between the City and surrounding creative hubs. The image of the Square Mile as a purely financial centre is now hopelessly out of date.
With six Michelin-starred restaurants, Soho House’s NED hotel, ambitions for a major destination for creativity called the Culture Mile, and social entertainment ventures such as Brewdog picking the City for its first ever brewpub – this part of London is changing.
For SMEs, in the last four years those working in flexible co-working spaces doubled to 20,000 people, and WeWork is looking to grow from 7,000 members in the City to 15,000.
For the big companies, the City is paving the way for a series of new office towers with the potential to accommodate 85,000 workers.
But these buildings are changing too. Of the 13 upcoming developments due to be completed by 2026, six will have free public viewing galleries, and they will be the most inclusive high rises the Square Mile has seen in the past decade.
The commitment of the likes of Bloomberg to the City of London over recent months has filled me with optimism that the ever-changing Square Mile will be a global hub for centuries still to come.