Leeds City Region, confident, ambitious and assertive as it prepares for MIPIM UK
As you read this, the LEP, our City Region’s local authorities and our private sector supporters are preparing for the UK’s premier investment forum, MIPIM UK. Together we will be showcasing our City Region to the decision makers and influential attendees whilst emphasising that we remain ready to do business with our international neighbours.
In preparing to lead the City Region’s MIPIM UK delegation I have had an opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months. We have seen some truly transformational changes to the national and regional economies and to the skyline. In fact the last year has seen, the economy of Leeds City Region, the largest in the Northern Powerhouse, grow to £62.5 billion. In addition to this we have been recognised both nationally, and internationally an investment ready destination that offers both significant returns to investors and has a proactive approach to business.
I’ve been pleased to see that this year we have taken the confidence of 2015, and evolved it into an ambitious and assertive approach to business and leading the future of our City Region’s economy in partnership with both the public and private sector. The region’s confidence was reflect in Deloitte’s 2016 Cranes Survey, which reported that the region’s office construction levels were at their highest since 2007. The confidence and momentum of the City Region has also seen tangible results, such as the investments from SKY, Burberry and Legal & General Homes, the latter of which will see the establishment of the largest modular housebuilding factory in Europe, in Selby.
Outside the region I have also been pleased to see HM Government recognising our strengths within key sectors, and as an accountant was delighted to be present when former Northern Powerhouse minister James Wharton named our City Region as a Financial Centre of Excellence in February. This recognition of one of our key sectors has been further bolstered by the recent spate of investments by professional services firms in the region including PwC in Central Square, KPMG and Addleshaw Goddard on Sovereign Square, and Squire Patton Boggs, Shulmans LLP and Ward Hadaway in Wellington Place.
It would be remiss of me, however, when writing about the year to date, not to mention the referendum, but I’m pleased to note that since the 23 June, private sector confidence in our City Region hasn’t diminished. Yes there may be new challenges for us to face, but the LEP has continued to see new inward investment enquiries coming forward. In fact the continuing momentum of our City Region can be demonstrated by the various success stories published recently, such as Jet2.com expanding its training base in Bradford, and the forthcoming launch of John Lewis in Leeds in October as the anchor tenant of Hammerson’s new £165million Victoria Gate scheme. Infrastructure investments are also continuing to move forward with plans for the iconic Butterfly Building in Wakefield which will be the headquarters of Really Useful Products; the Singaporean led Bridge Street development in Leeds; and the transformation of the former Aviva offices in York into a Malmaison hotel, all at various stages of the planning process.
On the topic of attracting investment, earlier this summer I read EY’s ‘Investing in the North’ report which highlighted how international investors view talent as a crucial factor in their decision to locate outside of London. As a region we are already recognising this. We have a renewed focus on the future and are working in partnership with our academic institutions, to develop some truly exceptional locations to work and study including the University of Huddersfield’s new Oastler Building.
Finally as MIPIM UK draws near I would like to thank all of our private sector partners who through sponsorship make our presence at MIPIM a success, ensuring awareness of our City Region is higher than ever before. I’d particularly like to thank those who have once again confirmed their support including Thorpe Park Leeds, Aire Valley Land, aql, Bruntwood, TCS, CEG, Extra MSA Group, GVA, Hammerson, Shulmans LLP, Quod, Addleshaw Goddard and Wellington Place. They will be joined by representatives from Leeds Bradford Airport, NJL Consulting and Caddick Developments who are joining our City Region delegation for the first time ahead of MIPIM UK.