Saffron Walden: School concert hall crowned RICS ‘project of the year’

Saffron Hall wins Project of the Year. Presenter of the Project of the Year award, Angela Thomas, fr

Saffron Hall wins Project of the Year. Presenter of the Project of the Year award, Angela Thomas, from sponsors Taylor Walton LLP, with David Barrs, Mark Hayes, John Hartley, Hilary Goldsmith, Julian Barrett, Paul Connelly, Alistair Forbes, Keith Everitt, John Hesse and Keith Varnes, representatives of winning project Saffron Hall. - Credit: Archant

A school concert hall at Saffron Walden was crowned Project of the Year at a regional surveyors’ awards ceremony.

Forty-three of the region’s most successful property projects went head to head at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS )East of England Awards 2014, held at Sopwell House, St Albans, with regional winners across seven categories.

The top title went to Saffron Hall, a state-of-the-art performance space attached to Saffron Walden County High School, which also scooped the Design Through Innovation title.

A panel of six judges decided the innovative new concert hall, which includes adjustable acoustics that can be altered to suit voice or music, represented the most outstanding example of the region’s property expertise.

Around 150 property professionals were at the prestigious annual contest, hosted by BBC Look East’s Janine Machin, which celebrates inspirational initiatives in the land, property and construction sectors.

The Building Conservation award was scooped by Finchingfield Guildhall, Finchingfield, Essex, while the Community Benefit was scooped by TOKKO Youth Space in Luton.

The Infrastructure award went to Abberton Reservoir Enhancement in Colchester, and the Regeneration title to The Backstage Centre, in Purfleet.

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Manor Farm Barns at Wells-next-the-sea in Norfolk scooped the Residential Property award, while the Royal Pavilion at Southend Pier took the Tourism & Leisure.

In addition to providing a venue for professional and young performers, Saffron Hall is a multi-functional space used for assemblies, examination and school productions. Part of the building provides sixth form facilities in addition to what previously existed.

Awards chair Stephen Boniface said: “Saffron Hall provides a first class (if not world class) concert hall in what is a conventional high school.

“The external appearance gives no real indication of what visitors will encounter upon entering the hall. Once inside, you would never guess that you were in a school hall. With state-of-the-art equipment and adjustable acoustics, this progressive project represents exactly what the RICS East of England Property Awards are about.”