Articles | UKREIIF 2023



By Gavin Winbanks, Interim Executive Director, Opportunity London

London arrived en masse in Leeds last week, for the second UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum  (UKREIIF) from 16 – 18 May. This was my first time at UKREIIF and my first event in my capacity as Interim Executive Director of Opportunity London.

Having seen London represented at MIPIM, I was excited to see how Opportunity London would translate in a Northern context. The OL proposition really comes to life in these forums with the public and private sectors working in partnership to secure investment and create communities we all want to live in.

It was such a pleasure to see the London programme and our partners in action, both in The Canary and in the wider UKREIIF programme. One of my key learnings from Leeds is that I thought I “knew” London. Having worked here for nearly 20 years, UKREIIF brought home how we all have do more to connect outside of our “communities” to deliver the innovation which encourages long-term sustainable investment in real estate, regeneration and infrastructure. By new contacts alone, UKREIIF felt like a success. What brought this home to me was receiving a message from LinkedIn saying I had reached my weekly limit for new LinkedIn connection. Who knew this was even a thing?

Here are my top three highlights:

  1. Opportunity London partnering with Manchester was a great collaboration providing a great event and meeting space. The two Cities worked well together – both behind the scenes and in the public space so shout out to the team at NLA and Marketing Manchester for creating a dynamic which will hopefully be replicated in future. We should be proud of our world leading city but in certain forums, it is useful for us to represent collaboratively to make sure we use resources efficiently.
  2. The launch of the London Infrastructure Framework by London Councils was super positive. I know there has been a lot of work go in to this framework and efforts to ensure it aligned and added to the work of the London Plan. It is a good read and will form the basis for ongoing work by London Councils, Opportunity London and the wider network.
  3. Finally, The Rest is Politics session with Rob Evans of Argent, Georgia Gould from Camden and Abi Brown of Stoke on Trent was an excellent session. Politics and government are integral to the success of the built environment. Great to have the external provocations of two leading thinkers in a non-partisan manner emulating the model that we have created for Opportunity London.

My overall take-away from my time in Leeds is that UKREIIF is a profoundly positive addition to the calendar of events in which the London built environment community connects and communicates and hopefully will have even more investors in attendance next year. I have a heap of follow-ups with investors and stakeholders off the back of UKREIIF and looking forward to taking Opportunity London to the next stage, working across NLA and London & Partners and all of our public and private sector partners.