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Double award success for Food Academy

Posted 24 May 2010

The Harper Adams team

The West Midlands Regional Food Academy, at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, has been named "Project of the Year" at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ West Midlands Awards 2010.

The sensitive redevelopment of former farm buildings on the Harper Adams campus into the high-tech Regional Food Academy also secured the “Regeneration” title at the West Midlands Awards and the project will now go forward to the national awards ceremony, which will take place in London in October.

Judges’ comments included “a well executed project” and “good value for money”, as well commending the development for being completed both on time and on budget.

Harper Adams Estates Manager Paul Moran MRICS said: “The Project of the Year award is given to a development that exceeds the criteria in one of the assessment categories. The West Midlands Regional Food Academy (RFA) met not only the regeneration criteria, but also ticked boxes in the conservation, sustainability and community benefit categories.

“We could have chosen to demolish the old buildings, but they are at the heart of the campus and are a key part of our history. We saw an opportunity to regenerate the area and provide a facility to meet current and future needs in food education.

“We have achieved so much through this project, and I am really delighted that not only is the RFA aesthetically pleasing, but it meets its functional needs well. It wasn’t easy, but everyone in the design and construction team pulled together to overcome the inevitable difficulties a project of this type encounters.”

The building converted into the RFA was originally a milking parlour and then an animal feed mill.  More recently it housed dairy cattle, before conversion work began in September 2008. The completed building now has BREEAM “very good” rating for sustainability and boasts a range of modern food technology facilities, as well as a high quality lecture theatre and conference facilities, an exhibition hall and offices for the RFA’s staff and Harper Adams’s food science lecturers.

Ralph Early, Director of the West Midlands Regional Food Academy, said: “We have been honoured by the RICS.  We wanted to demonstrate that a food technology centre could be incorporated cost effectively and sensitively into an old building, avoiding an overpriced new-build on a greenfield site. 

“We also wanted to create a highly functional building that would allow us to fulfil the RFA’s mission to serve the region’s food industry and also to engage with schools, colleges, universities and the community.  The RICS awards have endorsed our achievement and we are pleased that the judging process truly understood the common-good nature of the RFA project.”

Funding for the creation and operation of the RFA, which was formally opened by HRH The Princess Royal in December 2009, was provided by Advantage West Midlands and Harper Adams University College, as well as support from the Eric Lea Charitable Trust.

Mark Pearce, Corporate Director for Economic Regeneration at Advantage West Midlands, said: “This award is fantastic news and reflects the excellence with which the development of the new academy as a whole was pursued by all partners. We are delighted to be able to support the Region’s food industry by working with Harper Adams University College in Shropshire."

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