AN EFFORT to promote Hampshire and Dorset together at the "most important property event in the world" has already led to meetings with investors, organisers say.

Business leaders and council officials went to Cannes to represent the Central South at MIPIM in the spring and plan to return next year.

Organisers said representatives from Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council and BCP Council had all reported meetings taking place on their home turf since high-level connections were forged with developers and investors at the event.

The Central South was represented for the first time at March’s MIPIM event, in front of 20,000 people from 80 countries.

Those behind the Central South drive say the visit was the first step on a journey to promote the region for future investment and development. A visit to the House of Commons is planned for later this month.

Tim Hancock, chair of the Business South Regenerate South group and Bournemouth-based planning and design company Terence O’ Rourke, said: “MIPIM international property conference is the most important property event in the world and we were proud to be flying the flag for our region.

“It was an opportunity to build relationships and sow the seeds for future investment and development in our region. Having met key people in Cannes, we now have the opportunity to invite them to visit us and see the opportunities presented by the Central South.”

The MIPIM initiative was championed by Business South and endorsed by business leaders, local authorities and organisations such as the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.

Business South Group chief executive Leigh-Sara Timberlake said: “We have had a ringing endorsement from partners and they want to attend MIPIM in 2023, with the understanding it should be the foundation of a strategy to jointly promote the Central South on a global stage.

“We are looking for further sources of funding to ensure we can continue to deliver powerful messaging for the Central South and build on the positive work to date.”

Richard Summers, director of Southampton-based architect Boyle and Summers, said the Cannes trip had been an opportunity to meet decision makers who are usually impossible to reach.

“We met a diverse range of people and had interesting discussions that we are following up now we are back,” he said.

Leigh-Sara Timberlake added: "This is just the start and we need to keep the momentum going.

“It is encouraging to hear that investors and developers we met at MIPIM are now actively engaging in follow-up meetings in the Central South.

“We are already planning ahead and hearing positive news from partners regarding future activity.”

The Central South region includes Hampshire, Dorset and South West Surrey.

The team visiting MIPIM promoted initiatives including three major development schemes in Southampton covering 22 acres of the city centre, as well as the Solent Freeport scheme.

Benefits highlighted at the event included the region’s connectivity, world-leading universities and world-class lifestyle including national parks and beaches.