More accolades for building projects by Hampshire County Council and its Property Services team

The two most recently completed designs by Hampshire County Council’s Property Services team have again been shortlisted for prestigious awards – this time by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Mar 22 2019

whitchurch silk mill
Judges’ eyes were caught by the County Council’s design of striking new restaurant The Lookout, at Lepe Country Park, and the sensitive conservation and enhancement of Whitchurch Silk Mill.  

This closely follows recent news of both buildings being shortlisted for the prestigious national awards of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).  

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said:  “To be shortlisted for awards by yet another prestigious architectural institution is further demonstration of the skill and ingenuity of our multidisciplinary in-house design team. We are lucky in Hampshire to have the scale and resources to maintain such a high level of professional expertise in-house, enabling our work on public buildings to not only provide good value for taxpayers, but also to create beautiful and remarkable buildings that Hampshire’s residents and visitors will enjoy.” 

Both buildings will now be assessed by RIBA’s regional jury, with the winners announced at a ceremony in late May. The Regional Award winners will be considered for a highly-coveted RIBA National Award, the results of which will be announced in June.  

 The Lookout at Lepe  

Set within the New Forest National Park, The Lookout is a new beach-side restaurant at Lepe Country Park in Exbury. It was completed last summer as part of a £2.9 million transformation of the park’s facilities for visitors. Out of five Hampshire County Council country parks that have been allocated significant investment, Lepe was the first to complete its makeover, now boasting new accessible paths and toilets, improved play equipment and a stunning new restaurant. 

The Lookout replaced a visitor facility that had become dated and, with rising sea levels, increasingly vulnerable to damage from storm and tidal surges. The new restaurant is designed to withstand exposure to coastal weather, being elevated some 2.5 metres above the beach. It also offers panoramic views of the Solent from its wide glazed front, boasting a striking design that is proving popular with visitors. 

Commenting on The Lookout, Councillor Perry said: “Investing in new modern facilities for Lepe is a big step towards making it financially self-sustaining, for future generations to enjoy. The County Council, and its funding partners the Enterprise M3 LEP, New Forest District Council, and the New Forest National Park Authority, have all been delighted with the positive response from visitors to the work undertaken by our design team - the recognition from RICS is well deserved.” 

 Whitchurch Silk Mill 

Built in 1815, Whitchurch Silk Mill is of national significance as the oldest working silk mill in the UK. In 2016 The Mill embarked on a £1.36m project to repair and conserve the site and buildings, improve the visitor experience and ensure the future of silk weaving in Whitchurch. The project was partially funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, with the remainder coming from Trusts, Charities, Foundations and private donations.  

The project has restored the Mill’s original open floor plans and enabled visitors to watch the production of silk fabrics by highly skilled craftspeople. The layout of the building has been altered to improve visitor flow, with glazed partitions providing views of the looms. 

The project has included: 

Conservation and repairs to the fabric of the listed mill building 

Installation of a new lift, enabling full access to the unique historic machinery on the second floor for the first time 

Creation of a new welcome building housing the shop, ticketing and café, enabling the old café to be removed from the mill building, thereby providing space for learning activities. 

Landscape improvements, including new widened bridges, an external deck over the River Test with views of the mill and new railings around the site. 

Sue Tapliss, Whitchurch Silk Mill Director said: “The Preserving the Fabric project has secured the future for silk weaving at the mill by creating an inspiring and beautiful place to visit and learn about its significant past. The new Welcome Building hosts a destination café and gift shop which will help us to become self-sustaining by 2025. The restoration and access improvements in the Mill have improved the visitor experience and we can now look forward to delighting visitors for another 200 years.”