RICS Award For The Witham
The £2.3m restoration of the Grade II listed Witham Hall, in Barnard Castle, has been judged the best building conservation project at the RICS North East Renaissance Awards held on Friday 25th April.
The landmark arts complex which now provides a new cultural, community and commercial hub in the centre of Barnard Castle with event space, studios, offices and meeting rooms was designed to spearhead the regeneration of the town centre and has also been shortlisted in the annual Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) awards in the best planning and built heritage category.
The Witham and Library Development Project, managed by Barnard Castle Vision, Durham County Council and The Witham Hall Ltd, has seen the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Witham Testimonial Hall. Originally constructed in 1846 as a memorial to local philanthropist, landowner and geologist, Henry Witham, the Hall and the adjacent Testimonial Building and Music Hall have been completely refurbished with new studio units created along Hall Street to form a thriving new artistic quarter for budding local artists.
In addition, a new ‘link’ building has been built which will become an informal meeting point and public foyer for the 200 seat event space in the Music Hall. Finally, the 1970’s library building has been refurbished with the addition of an additional storey to include new council offices and a customer access point as well as the continued library service.
The project has had its share of challenges as JDDK project architect, Adam Vaughan, explained, “JDDK actually provided technical design as part of the Design and Build delivery team, based on concept designs by Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios and whilst it’s always a challenge to successfully introduce new build elements in a sympathetic manner into a historic setting, it was particularly so given the restricted site we had in Barnard Castle. The restoration has created superb spaces such as the original Testimonial Room which have now been brought back to life.”
Durham County Council’s Regeneration Projects Manager, Chris Myers, added, “The restored Witham Hall will form the artistic new cultural, commercial and community heart of Barnard Castle which will bring enormous and continuing economic benefits to the town, the local community and visitors. The Witham will provide a range of facilities for local businesses, retailers and community groups and we’re delighted with the major part that Adam and the whole JDDK team have played in bringing the project to completion.”