BT building is up for a design award

QUITE INNOVATIVE ... Tony Purvis is a fan of the BT building.
QUITE INNOVATIVE ... Tony Purvis is a fan of the BT building.

A CONTROVERSIAL building in South Tyneside, once branded a ‘carbuncle’, has been nominated for a prestigious design award.

BT’s £10.5m South Shields headquarters is up for this year’s Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) property ‘Oscars’.

It is one of two developments in the town entered into RICS’s North East Renaissance Awards by South Tyneside Council.

The other is the £2m South Shields Foreshore “Sea Change” development.

Today, opinion was split on the merits of BT’s nomination, which comes just five months after the centre in Mill Dam opened for business, creating 500 jobs.

Doreen Monteiro, 79, of the Caer Urfa Heritage Association, said it was an eyesore and its nomination was “unbelievable”. She said: “I can’t believe it has happened. No one I ever speak to about it likes it or has a good word to say.

“It reminds me of something that used to get put up quickly after the war.

“The only thing I like about is that it has created jobs, which is very important. But it doesn’t fit in with the historic nature of that part of the river.”

However, Tony Purvis, who had urged council chiefs to build it closer to the Customs House to retain the river views, was supportive.

He said: “It doesn’t quite seem to fit in where it is, but I think it’s a fine-looking structure and quite innovative.

“People were unsure when they first saw the Sage in Gateshead or the Angel of the North, but now they are iconic structures. I think the same could happen here.”

RICS has run the property awards scheme for nine years.

Known as the North East’s property ‘Oscars’, the awards are judged by a panel of independent experts.

Ninety seven entries have been whittled down to a shortlist of 55, with a second round of judging under way.

Judging panel chairman David Furniss said: “The Renaissance Awards present an opportunity for the sectors to showcase the great work that is under way in the North East.

“We were delighted to see the entries pour in and once again the tremendous variety of projects has exceeded our expectations.

“It is a true testament to the resilience and excellence of our region’s property and construction sectors.”

The eight awards categories include building conservation, commercial property, community benefit, design & innovation and infrastructure.

The BT building has been entered into the regeneration and commercial categories, and the foreshore scheme in tourism and leisure, and infrastructure.

Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside’s lead member for regeneration, economic growth and jobs said: “This is excellent news.

“We are absolutely thrilled that newly opened One Harton Quay and the fantastic Sea Change programme on the Foreshore have been nominated for awards in four categories.”

RICS will announce the winners at Newcastle Civic Centre on April 27.

Other projects submitted include a 4-star hotel, a heritage centre, a redeveloped toffee factory and a police area headquarters.