Meet the region's projects vying for the Property Oscars
The £18 million revamp of Wolverhampton's council offices is among a string of projects competing for the region's most prestigious construction and regeneration awards.
It will be up against the city's £12m new Science, Science Technology & Protyping Centre and the transformation of a former open cast mine in Cannock into new industrial workspace.
They are among 22 of the most innovative property projects from across the West Midlands set to compete in this year’s RICS Awards 2018, West Midlands, to be held at Wolverhampton's Grand Station venue in May.
The awards which are known as the property 'Oscars', highlight the great talent involved for shaping the West Midland’s built environment. Organised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the event has shortlisted projects from Birmingham, the Black County, Herefordshire, Coventry & Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.
RICS regional director, Lynn Robinson said: "This will be the first time the ceremony will be hosted in Wolverhampton. As always, RICS strive to move the ceremonies around the West Midlands to showcase the depth and breadth of talent in this region.
"The Grand Station was a natural choice for us in 2018, as we celebrate our 150th anniversary. The venue not only encapsulates the essence of our awards but also highlights the value of surveyors over time, in transforming the built environment around us.”
The awards are divided into eight categories; Building Conservation, Commercial, Community Benefit, Design through Innovation, Infrastructure, Regeneration, Residential and Tourism & Leisure.
One of the category winners will be named overall Project of the Year, awarded to the scheme that demonstrates outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area. Last year saw Birmingham Institute for Forest Research in Staffordshire win the title. A project from the West Midlands also went on to win the national title at the Grand Final in November – the National Memorial Arboretum Remembrance Centre at Alrewas in Staffordshire.
Chairman of the RICS Awards 2018, West Midlands judging panel, Gurdip Chamba of Crossland Property, said: “Last year I was extremely proud to see our region take home the overall title of National Project of the Year for the second year running with The National Memorial Arboretum’s Remembrance Centre.
"This project showcased exemplary talent and plays a significant role in lives of so many people across the UK.
"The West Midlands continues to grow into a place of real significance for the UK and our built environment plays an integral part to our future success and this year's projects continue to emphasise the fantastic talent behind the future of our built environment.
"I look forward to celebrating the region’s success once again in May, and keep my fingers crossed for the region bringing home the national Project of the Year title for the third year running."
At Kingswood Lakeside, in Cannock, Opus Land remediated and developed 100,000 sq ft of industrial accommodation for First Choice Catering Spares on the site of a former open cast mine.
In Wolverhampton the Science Technology & Protyping Centre was built on a disused brownfield site on the edge of the city's science park, on Stafford Road, to provide 43,000 sq ft of office, workshop and laboratory facilities for small and medium sized businesses.
Choosing the refurbishment of Wolverhampton Civic Centre for the shortlist, the RICS said: "This refurbishment represents a firm commitment to create a modern technologically advanced building which enables staff to operate in an efficient working environment and deliver increased output levels.
"In addition to rationalising the property estate, the fully utilised centre enhances the ability to provide high quality levels of service to the local community and puts the now highly performing building at the forefront in leading both the city and the Black Country to achieve and deliver their regeneration ambitions."
Rather than a building project, a video training project developed in Stafford is among those vying for the Infrastructure award. The Toolbox Talk Video Infrastructure is an innovative solution to specialist training on construction projects devised by property consultancy Fisher German at Stafford. An entertaining video ‘story’ showing the impact of best practice versus poor practice on landowners, contractors, clients and health & safety on water pipeline projects.
The video is being rolled out as a mandatory ‘tool box talk’ by a client and is attracting interest from other clients in other sectors.
Also competing in the awards is the Weavers Cottage preservation project at Kidderminster. Once at the centre of industry in Kidderminster, Weavers’ Cottages, a rare remaining example of a building designed for domestic and workshop use, had long been neglected and forgotten until Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust had a vision to repair and convert them for modern living.
Challenged to ensure the restoration was both sensitive to the historic fabric, functional and sustainable, the conversion was completed in 2017, reinstating these significant properties with such a rich history back within their local community.
All category winners will go on to compete against other regional winners at the national RICS Awards Grand Final in November 2018, for the chance to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category.
The RICS Awards 2018, West Midlands which will be held on Wednesday, May 2, at Grand Station in Wolverhampton and will be hosted by Midlands Today presenter Mary Rhodes. Tickets for the ceremony and black tie dinner can be booked online at www.rics.org/wmawards.