Over 45 of the North West’s most impressive and community beneficial property schemes battled it out for top honours at the annual RICS Awards, North West. Veteran BBC news presenter, Clive Myrie hosted this year’s ceremony – supported by headline sponsor, Sika Sarnafil - held at the Principal Hotel in Manchester on 27 April.
The highly acclaimed Project of the Year title is presented to the scheme which demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area.
The £1.86 billion Mersey Gateway Project involved delivering a new six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey in Halton and significantly upgrading the area’s highways.
RICS judges praised the project team behind the complex infrastructure scheme - including Hugh O’Connor, Knight Architects, Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and Scarisbrick Estates Ltd – for not only removing a notorious congestion black-spot in the North West, but making journeys to and from the area far quicker, easier and much more reliable. The judges were also highly impressed with the project’s remarkable economic benefits which are expected to be four times greater than its initial cost.
This 16th-century manor house has been transformed in to an exquisite eatery, complete with adjacent cheese and wine rooms. Modern in design - with surrounding glass walls that offer panoramic views of the stunning property - the restaurant has proved very popular with the public and was awarded its first Michelin star only six-months after opening.
RICS judges praised the team behind the project – including Everett Commercial Ltd, Falconer Chester Hall Architects and Jeff Draper & Sons – for using the most sensitive and innovative construction methods to not only breath new-life into a historic structure, but also uncover hidden design elements of the original building which were maintained and incorporated into the restaurant.
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Stockport Exchange Phase 2 – delivered by Aedas RHWL, Cushman & Wakefield, Eric Wright Construction and Muse Developments - comprises the first Grade-A, BREEAM Excellent, office to be speculatively developed in Stockport for many years, together with a "top-10 in Europe" Holiday Inn Express. Its development has been a commercial and regeneration success setting a new benchmark for quality in South Manchester.
RICS judges said the buildings have rejuvenated a tired and under-used leisure scheme into an attractive and vibrant new commercial quarter, and brought employment to over 250 people.
The £2.7 million Sunbeams Music Centre in Penrith run by charity, Sunbeams Music Trust tackles the challenges raised by social exclusion, deprivation, ill-health and inequality through the transformative power of music.
RICS judges praised the project team that delivered Sunbeams - including MawsonKerr Architects, Thomas Armstrong Construction and Johnstons Chartered Quantity Surveyors – for creating a welcoming, accessible centre that is highly sustainable and meets the exacting needs of its users. The facility is naturally ventilated and lit to create a more calming ambience, whilst careful consideration to colour differences for those hard of sight were incorporated into the building.
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This unique £29 million, BREEAM Excellent factory represents a unique public/private partnership between the University of Liverpool and Unilever. The building provides cutting edge chemistry research facilities and is a striking addition to the university campus with its raw, imperfect steel and concrete exterior, complete with refined glazed walls and aluminium fins.
RICS judges said the project team – including Bam Construction, The Fairhursts Design Group and Turner & Townsend – have produced a truly flexible environment with bespoke equipment solutions to drive efficiency and accommodate a wide range of research techniques.
The Mersey Gateway Project – comprising a six-lane, 33m wide toll bridge and upgrades to 7.2km of strategic highway network - is a landmark scheme that has set a new bench-mark for sustainable construction. The new bridge opened to traffic on time and to budget in October 2017 and over 5milion vehicles have since crossed the bridge, enjoying quicker, easier and more reliable journeys.
Without the Mersey Gateway project – delivered by Hugh O’Connor, Knight Architects, Mersey Gateway Crossings Board and Scarisbrick Estates Ltd - congestion at the former existing Silver Jubilee bridge would have worsened to the extreme detriment of the local economy and public services.
The £27 million Space Studios provide a purpose-built TV production facility for the North of England. The project involved the complex conversion and extension of two redundant industrial sites in West Gorton that were contaminated and utilised for explosives production during World War I. The high risk of encountering UXO required a watching brief by bomb specialist to oversee all the construction works.
The impetus for the project – delivered by Turner & Townsend, PRP LLP and Vinci Construction - was to increase aspiration amongst the local community leading to employability. RICS judges said it had successfully done just that, providing apprenticeships and free masterclasses that focus on trades related to the sector including set building, joinery, lighting, rigging, special effects, and make-up. The judges also said the project has proved a key driver in the transformation of a deprived neighbourhood, once infamous as the home of the characters on the Channel 4 TV series “Shameless.”
Housing development, Timekeepers Square, comprises 36 Georgian-style townhouses in Salford, built around the Grade II listed neo-classical Church of St Phillip's. Delivered by English Cities Fund (ECf), and situated in a conservation area, Timekeepers Square is a mix of two, three and four-bedroom stylish properties combining the best of city living and suburbia.
RICS judges said the success of the scheme - which has acted as a catalyst for the next phase of residential development in the area - and the positive response from residents and prospective homeowners, is testament to the collaborative project team which included AHR Architects, Appleyard and Trew and Carillion.
The new Galloway’s facility - delivered by Frank Whittle Partnership Ltd and Wardens Construction Ltd - offers quality resources to assist visually impaired people in everyday living. The centre houses a ‘talking newspaper’ recording suite, lettable office and meeting spaces, as well as rooms for social and creative activities. A Social Enterprise Café also provides training and work placement opportunities for blind and partially sighted people.
RICS judges said the charity has created a facility that not only acts as a hub for the community, attracting local residents of all ages and abilities, not just the visually impaired; it’s also created a welcoming space for visitors to Morecambe, helping to raise awareness of the charity to the broader public.