EXCLUSIVE: Political editor WALTER CRONXITE reports on what could prove to be a massive piece of development news for the area
The council has landed a multi-million-Euro deal to bring one of the world’s largest property development events to the borough next year. MIPIM 2019 is to be staged in Croydon.
Negotiations have been kept under wraps until now, but Inside Croydon understands that there had been plans to make an official statement 10 days ago, to beat the deadline for pre-election purdah which prevents the council making potentially politically sensitive announcements in the run-up to elections.
However, the announcement was pulled because of some continuing uncertainties over the re-opening dates for the Fairfield Halls after its £30million refurbishment.
“The Fairfield Halls are to be a key venue in the MIPIM arrangements,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon.
“Hosting events for MIPIM would really help to kick-start the re-opened Halls’ conference centre business. Plus, there would be a grand opening concert staged in the Concert Hall featuring the London Mozart Players, the Trinity School Boys’ Choir. Michael Buble has even been booked. Stormzy was approached, but he’s planning a world tour at the time.”
The source suggests that the delayed announcement could be made as soon as today, possibly by council chief executive Jo Negrini, who finalised the details to bring MIPIM to south London on her recent flying visit to this year’s conference in the South of France.
“This will really put Croydon on the map,” said a Fisher’s Folly source.
“Coming just as the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, staging this international event will show that Croydon is ready to take investment money from anyone around the world, even after Brexit.
“And there’s huge savings possible to the council in bringing the event here, rather than us sending a delegation to the French Riviera as we normally do. We might save the Council Tax-payers of Croydon at least £2,000, possibly even £2,200.”
MIPIM, or Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier, is an international property event which has been hosted in Cannes each March since the early 1990s. It includes an exhibition area, networking events and conference sessions, usually over four days. It attracts more than 10,000 delegates from around the world.
For the past three years, there has also been an event held in London in the autumn.
But what Negrini and Croydon Council has managed to do, apparently, is to persuade the organisers to take their annual spring event from the South of France to south London in 2019.
Among the plans likely to be unveiled are:
- A 4in-deep layer of sand to be laid over the playing fields at Whitgift School, to create the “Croydon-sur-Mer” beach area to be used for networking and lots of hospitality
- Special pro-celebrity boules to be staged down Surrey Street
- Charity six-a-side football tournament between development PR agencies played at Selhurst Park
- Pedalos to be hired out for afternoon “cruises” on Waddon Ponds
Wine and champagne merchants, breweries and canape-makers across south London have already been invited to tender for lucrative hospitality contracts, said to be worth millions of pounds. Other, older, professions are also on stand-by to cash-in.
Richard Plant, of the Develop Croydon quango, is understood to have been a significant player in securing the use of the school playing fields, with Whitgift also offering its other facilities and exotic bird collection to delight the visiting multi-billionaire property speculators, who will be accommodated at the official conference hotel, the Croydon Hilton on the Purley Way, and in AirBnBs around the town centre.
Plant works for Stiles Harold Williams, who represent the Whitgift Foundation’s property interests around the borough, and got them to agree to use the school as a back-up for the delayed Fairfield Halls.
Because of the Easter long weekend, no one from the council or from MIPIM’s owners was available for an on-the-record comment, while a Town Hall source claimed to know nothing about the move. “But then I’m only an elected councillor, and they tell us nothing,” they said, a tad tartly.
MIPIM 2019 at Croydon-sur-Mer is set to open exactly one year from today, on April 1.
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