Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis has said the authority has to “act more like a business” as it prepares to disembark to a property development conference on the French Riviera.

The council has faced criticism for paying more than £4,000 in 2016 to attend the four-day MIPIM conference in the past, with the visit to the property networking this year paid for by developers.

But the funding change has not appeased everyone, with one councillor saying it is “worrying” the visit will be paid for by developers behind some of the borough’s biggest and most controversial developments.

CNM Estates, which last year secured planning permission to build four blocks of flats in Tolworth amid fierce protests, and British Land, which has been given approval to bulldoze the Eden Walk Shopping centre and build a new complex, are two of the developers paying for the trip.

Cllr Davis said: “It’s what most London boroughs do if they send a team to MIPIM. Whenever a council sends a team it’s paid for by development interests - it’s a very common way of doing it.

“I’ve always said that the council as we move closer to 2019 when the money isn’t coming in from [central] Government we have to act more like a business.

“I don’t think any council should have to apologise for getting investment in. It’s not just about housing.”

The MIPIM conference, which takes place in Cannes on the French Riviera, is used by Kingston Council to promote and encourage investment in the borough to an international audience.

Chief executive Charlie Adan, strategic director Roy Thompson and head of planning Viv Evans will lead the delegation, with cllr Davis unlikely to attend this year due to other commitments.

The Berkeley Group, British Land, USS and CNM Estates are financing the trip.

CNM Estates recently allegedly met with numerous community groups to propose building a 21-storey tower block could be built in the heart of New Malden.

New Malden councillor Mary Clark said: “I think all of it’s worrying, me especially being a New Malden councillor. It’s absolutely rife with applications.

“What’s the point in going? Why does Kingston have a stand there? You don’t need to go out looking for developers when there are developers already here.”

The conference takes place from Tuesday, March 14 to Friday, March 17.