Powerhouse Progress?

And so it was to London this week for the property conference MIPIM UK, where the Northern Powerhouse was high on the agenda.

A panel event with the chief executives of Liverpool and Manchester City Councils’ and the chairman of the Leeds Local Enterprise Partnership explored what this agenda might mean for their three city regions, and emphasised how collaboration in the future is a must if the north is to compete in the global economy.

Sir Howard Bernstein, clearly the principle authority on the subject having delivered ‘Devo Manc’, suggested we look back to the future:

“This (agenda) is not new. Manchester built the ship canal to link it to Liverpool and to connect with people who make things with people who want to trade. This is a clear and continuing pattern.” Clearly transport and connectivity are at the top of the Northern Powerhouse priority list.

Leeds LEP chair Roger Marsh quoted Abraham Lincoln in his contribution saying “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”; whilst Liverpool CEO Ged Fitzgerald was keen to emphasise collaboration: “If we try and continue to do these things in isolation, we won’t be able to compete globally. In the Northern Powerhouse once we articulate our propositions and get our investable propositions in place, we can blend the macro factors with the micro factors developers look at.”

An interesting discussion, for sure, but equally clear is the fact that Northern Powerhouse is still very much a work in progress; with one city region significantly ahead of the rest.

As for the conference itself, the shared Manchester-Liverpool stand was extremely lively; and if you want to meet a dozen or so key people in the space of a couple of hours, rather than trying to sort our appointments with them that can take weeks – I’d highly recommend that you attend next year.