MIDDLESBROUGH’S Centre Square, a project to revitalise the town centre and kick start the local economy, is in contention for a number of prestigious awards.

Both of Centre Square’s buildings - One and Two Centre Square - have been nominated in the inaugural Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Social Impact Awards which recognise the built environment's “positive and transformational contribution to society”.

And judges from the British Council for Offices (BCO) have been on a fact-finding visit to the town after One and Two Centre Square were nominated for best Commercial Workplace Award.

Tony Hordon, chairman of the BCO Awards 2020, said: “In order to win, projects need to stand out in a world class field. The winners need to get everything just right – and then surprise with something extra.”

The Centre Square project was launched five years ago by developer Mark Ashall after the influential think-tank Centre for Cities concluded that Middlesbrough town centre needed Grade A offices to attract large companies offering well-paid jobs which, in turn, would have a beneficial impact on the local economy.

In July, Two Centre Square, a three-storey 35,000 sq ft office building, was completed. One Centre Square followed two months later. It is bigger – 60,000 sq ft over four storeys – with a large space for a restaurant/café on the ground floor.

“The aim was to create buildings which have a stunning visual impact, but also provide high-quality space that is adaptable, economic and sustainable,” said Mr Ashall of Ashall Projects. “Employees are a business’ greatest asset – and that was our starting point. Above all we wanted to deliver a great working environment where people want to work.”

He added: “We are delighted with the endorsement from two sets of judges. It underlines our ambition to create the very best, capable of attracting business and employees to Middlesbrough.” Sarah Sabin - director of Seymour Architecture, the architects for Centre Square – said: “Since both buildings were completed they have had a positive impact upon the town centre and the local community, attracting great comments from local residents and businesses as well as receiving strong interest from prospective tenants.

“It is very pleasing to know that they have been so well received and even the reaction of the visiting judging committees was rewarding to see. Industry recognition in the form of an award would be the icing on the cake.”

The project has already had a major impact on the Tees Valley economy. All of the workforce involved in construction worked within 25 miles of the centre of Middlesbrough. New jobs were created and an estimated £5.5m was spent with local businesses. Negotiations are on-going with a number of potential occupiers.

The regional final of the RICS Social Impact Award takes place on May 1 in Newcastle, with the national final in London in September.

The Northern Awards dinner for the BCO Regional Innovation Award is held next month in Manchester. All regional winners compete at the National Awards dinner in London in October.