The successful transformation of a landmark Tyneside building has been recognised in a prestigious awards scheme.
Heworth Hall, a Grade II Listed building in Gateshead, had been empty and neglected for several years before being bought by innovative technology company Aspire Technology Solutions.
Aspire’s managing director Nigel Begg had the vision to convert the 18th Century building – on the Felling by-pass - into a modern office space. Now the project has been recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute, being commended in their regional awards scheme.
When Heworth Conservative Club moved out of the hall, it was left vacant for a number of years, suffering a degree of deterioration.
Planning consultants George F. White, of Wolsingham, and Dixon Dawson Architects, of Chester-le-Street, started working on the project with Aspire in 2010, and planning permission and Listed Building Consent were granted in March 2011.
The refurbished building was officially opened by the then Mayor of Gateshead in November 2011. Aspire continue to invest in the site, spending more than £1m on a 3,500sq ft data centre which will be open by the end of this year.
Commenting on the scheme, the RTPI judges said: “The building had suffered from years of neglect, though many passers-by on the Felling by-pass know it by sight.
“Last occupied by Heworth Conservative Club, the vacant building had the good fortune to be spotted by Aspire Technology Solutions, who had the vision to see its potential as the headquarters of an ambitious IT consultancy.
“The implemented scheme is a good example of how to combine historic features with contemporary décor and an entirely modern use.”
Nigel Begg said he was delighted with the award: “We could see the potential of what is a beautiful, iconic building and knew it would make a great HQ for us.
“We wanted a building with a prominent location, but also a building that could provide state-of-the-art accommodation for a fast-growing, cutting-edge IT company.
“It was a challenge to meet our demand for an inspiring environment inside such an historic building, but the project team have done it and our employees all love working here.
“It was a real team effort between ourselves, the architects and the planning consultants, but I think the result is a building of which the region can be proud.”
Joe Ridgeon, planning consultant at George F. White, was also delighted with the result. He said: “It’s great to see such a lovely building put back to full use. The project had some interesting challenges, but we worked well with Aspire to ensure that the vision became a reality and that a historic building could be fit-for-purpose for such a modern company.”
Other winners in this year’s RTPI’s regional awards included The Student Forum, Newcastle University; the restoration of Stewart Park in Middlesbrough and the Craghead Environmental Scheme in County Durham.