Sunderland's Beacon of Light and Northern Spire named among region's best new developments in prestigious awards

The interior of the Beacon of Light
The interior of the Beacon of Light

Sunderland's stunning Beacon of Light has been named the North East's best new development.

The landmark building won the Community Benefit category award at the RICS Awards, 2019, before being named the overall ‘Project of the Year.’

The Beacon's stunning indoor football pitches

The Beacon's stunning indoor football pitches

The highly acclaimed title is presented to the category winner that demonstrates outstanding best practice and commitment to adding value to its local area.

The £117million Northern Spire bridge scooped the Infrastructure category award for providing a vital new transport link over the River Wear and an integral part of a strategic transport corridor to drive job creation and inward investment in Sunderland.

Born from the Foundation of Light (FoL) charity’s pledge to combat reported shortcomings in the region’s education, health and employment skills, the Beacon of Light is the first not-for-profit facility of its kind in the UK, offering improvement opportunities for all, from educational and wellbeing resources, skills training, pathways to employment, healthy lifestyle activities and a multitude of sports.

Activities and initiatives include the Beacon of Light School, for students marginalised from mainstream education, along with walking football and netball games, Bring It On! – an interactive showcase of engineering careers, as well as toddler play groups, and an NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Service.

The Beacon of Light

The Beacon of Light

Chair of the judging panel Adam Serfontein said: "This inspirational, grand yet welcoming, building is an extremely worthy home for the Foundation of Light and the diverse range of invaluable services and projects the charity currently provides to improve people’s lives.

"It has also created a positive, visible landmark for Sunderland, with colour-changeable lighting that supports special awareness campaigns and the city’s football team.

"Successfully delivering on its goal to involve, encourage, inspire and motivate, the team behind it – FaulknerBrowns, Foundation of Light, Identity Consult and Tolent – have delivered an exemplary, much-loved community asset that is averaging around 4500 visitors each week, making it a stand-out Project of the Year.”

The winners of all eight categories were announced as:

Northern Spire

Northern Spire

Building Conservation – Darlington Hippodrome & Theatre Hullabaloo, Darlington

Commercial – 71 Grey Street, Newcastle

Community Benefit - Beacon of Light, Sunderland

Design through Innovation – Cleveland Community Safety Hub, Middlesbrough

Infrastructure - Northern Spire, Sunderland

Regeneration – Ravensworth Road Regeneration Scheme, Gateshead

Residential - The Green, Hartlepool

Tourism & Leisure - Spanish City, Whitley Bay

A number of Highly Commended certificates were also handed out on the night to Middlesbrough Town Hall Restoration & Refurbishment, Middlesbrough (Building Conservation), Level Q, Stockton-on-Tees (Commercial property), Janet Nash House, Durham (Design through Innovation) and Longhirst Hall, Morpeth (Residential).

Mr Serfontein commented: "A diverse range of innovative projects, of all sizes and budgets, made the shortlist this year and the winners are truly representative of our region’s best and most innovative built projects that are having a significant positive impact on their communities.

"The teams behind these winning projects should be very proud of their exceptional achievements and contribution to the region."

All category winners will go on to compete against other regional winners at the national RICS Awards Grand Final in London, for the chance to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category.