Emma Honey
Posted on 30 Mar 2014

Commercial Project of the Year with a Value Over £5m

The Michelmores and Western Morning News Property Awards are the region's premier property competition, showcasing the very best in West Country property projects, buildings and firms.

The Commercial Project of the Year with a Value Over £5million category is sponsored by Summerfield Developments and The Research, Innovation, Learning and Development Centre, Exeter was announced as the winner at a Gala Dinner at St Mellion International Resort on May 8th 2014.

More about what the judges had to say...

Shortlist 2014

The Research, Innovation, Learning and Development Centre (RILD), Exeter

Nominated by Interserve Construction Limited

Project Cost: £27.5m

The state-of-the-art Research, Innovation, Learning and Development Centre (RILD) is a partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and the RD&E NHS Foundation Trust with the aim of streamlining the medical research process and enabling testing and analysis under one roof. It also provides a forum for students, researchers and clinicians to come together and ensure that medical research is relevant for the needs of the NHS.

The close links between the University and the Trust will mean that the single centre approach, from medical research through to training and development, will ensure that patients get the best service possible. Students and staff within both organisations can be updated on the current best medical practice. The training facilities for all staff have been expanded with improved facilities to allow continuing professional development throughout individuals’ careers.

As well as top quality research and post graduate education facilities, the building houses the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) which will amass data from clinical trials of 10,000 subjects enabling researchers to analyse the information and to seek answers on some of the rarest healthcare issues facing society. Local, national and international communities and scientists will benefit from this building.

The judges felt that these new facilities represent a real asset for Exeter helping to attract high-end jobs as well as improve the standard of healthcare, research and discovery. The new building enables researchers to test patients, analyse samples, design and carry out case studies and communicate with clinical colleagues all under one roof, putting Exeter right at the heart of healthcare innovation world-wide.

The judges also commended RILD’s low carbon footprint, ‘brave design’ and its ‘dramatic’ interior design. 

Sainsbury’s Penzance

Nominated by Stride Treglown Limited

Project Cost: £15m

The aim of the project was to redevelop the former Heliport brownfield site and improve the gateway to the town centre providing new employment opportunities to the local residents of Penzance.

The store currently employs 271 people with up to 200 staff on site each day benefiting local accommodation providers, restaurants and entertainment venues.  The customer footfall is 21,000 per week and the store is currently trading 20% over budget.

In addition to in-store retail, the Goods online facility enables customers with restricted mobility/ travel arrangements to get their groceries delivered in the local area. Sainsbury’s are anticipating the need to increase the number of vans to reach a wider audience by the summer 2014.

The judges were impressed by the elevated balcony of the customer cafe to the south east corner of the site with its large external seating area and stunning views towards Mounts Bay. The canopy and undulating roof are dramatic features that protect customers from the weather, provide an elegant and stylish look for the building and emphasise its intended role as a gateway landmark.

The palette of materials used on the building including local granite stone for the elevations of the building as well as Gabion retaining wall reflects buildings in the town centre. The sympathetic landscape scheme also used large granite rocks of the type found along the adjacent foreshore to Long Rock Beach. 

The project which engaged with the community in a wide range of initiatives achieves its objectives and, in the judges view, has created “more than a typical supermarket”.

University Technical College (UCT), Plymouth

Nominated by BAM Construction Limited

Project Cost: £9m

UTCs are a new concept in education offering 14-19 year olds the opportunity to take full time, technically-oriented courses of study. They are equipped to the highest standard, sponsored by a university and offer clear progression routes into higher education or further learning in work.

This Plymouth City Council project is unique to our region and is aimed at providing an extra educational dimension for young people enabling the South West to grow its own skilled workforce within the next generation.

UTC combines national curriculum requirements with technical and vocational elements. Its curriculum is heavily influenced by local and national employers who also provide support and work experience for students particularly in the engineering and marine industry sectors.

30 to 40 local industries ranging from global corporations to family businesses are already embracing this new concept and offering the students first hand opportunities to understand the real world of manufacturing and engineering, work placements, internships as well as real world projects to tackle. This is expected to result in smarter, more employable students.

Built on the site of a former failed school in Devonport, the design and equipping of the 7 unique workshops at UTC has been transformational. No other educational establishment in the SW region compares in terms of space, layout, access functionality and equipment.

The judges acknowledged the success of this project in terms of local resident support and employer engagement.  It tackles the problem of skill shortages head on and, by “investing in tomorrow’s technologies”, has created an “optimistic environment”.

Victoria Advent House & Victoria Beacon Place, Cornwall

Nominated by Victoria Offices

Project cost: £5.6m

Serviced offices are not a new concept in large city centres but bringing the idea to rural Cornwall is and was only feasible due to the central location of the existing Victoria Commercial Centre just off the A30.

Victoria Commercial Centre has been used by hundreds of businesses and start-ups over many years but the idea of serviced offices in Cornwall has allowed new businesses to emerge from spare rooms and garages into a workspace where they can engage with like-minded businesses and present a professional image to clients and colleagues.

Built with a £3.1m ERDF Convergence Funding towards the £5.6m project cost, flexible working space for over 300 people is being provided with available support including telecoms, fibre broadband and office furniture helping start-ups to be up and running in the minimum time. Businesses also benefit from being able to expand or scale down on workspace depending on their needs, without delays or incurring costs.

The project also offers conference and training facilities enhancing its attraction as the centre of business in the centre of Cornwall and was 25% let within weeks of opening.

Built on a Brownfield site on the edge of a well-established industrial estate, the development has had minimal impact on the local environment and has not reduced the space available for agriculture or residential development.  The use of natural materials and colours in the external appearance gives the buildings a ‘refreshing appearance’ which are appropriate to their surroundings.

The buildings boast considerable environmentally friendly features which have achieved a BREEAM Excellent standard including passive characteristics such as extensive insulation achieving exceptionally low energy use, natural ventilation, natural daylight and solar shading. Functional elements include occupation-controlled and daylight-reactive lighting, biomass boiler and PV array, along with extensive energy metering and monitoring.