Newly developed for 2020, the RICS Social Impact Awards seek to recognise the built environment's positive and transformational contribution to society. Prior to announcing the finalists, a team of judges assessed the human, social and environmental impact of hundreds of schemes across a total of nine sectors, as well as the innovation and collaboration that went into bringing those projects to fruition. Strawberry Field is one of just 35 schemes to be shortlisted. 

Formerly a children’s home run by The Salvation Army, the transformed site opened its renowned red gates to the public in September 2019 having undergone a complete redevelopment. The disused 1970s buildings were cleared to make way for a new ‘pavilion in the park’, which now features an immersive exhibition, café overlooking and opening out onto extensive gardens, and a training centre for young people with learning disabilities. 

For the first time, visitors can explore the site and contemplative spaces within the gardens and enjoy the state-of-the-art exhibition space which tells the story behind the 1967 global pop hit ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, as well as paying homage to John Lennon’s early life. Meanwhile, the training and work placement hub is giving local young people with learning difficulties the opportunity to acquire vital employment skills in industries such as catering, retail and horticulture through the charity’s Steps to Work programme.

Commenting on the RICS’ announcement Marc Chapman, director at Gleeds responsible for the scheme, said: “Everyone involved with this project was acutely aware of the significance of the Strawberry Field site for the people of Liverpool so we are thrilled to have been part of the talented team that delivered what is proving to be a truly fantastic facility. Both the training centre and visitor spaces are real assets to the local community and we hope to see it achieve the recognition it deserves when the winners are announced later this year”. 

Chris Coleman-Smith, Director of Hoskins Architects added; “We’re delighted Strawberry Field has been shortlisted in both the leisure and education categories of the RICS Social Impact Awards. It has been a privilege to work in collaboration with the Salvation Army and the wider team on this innovative project which has transformed a disused site into a major visitor destination and an educational hub for young adults with learning disabilities, creating opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential.

“Open to the public for the first time, visitors from all over the world and members of the local community alike can explore the place which famously inspired John Lennon, and enjoy a unique cultural, heritage and spiritual experience” he went on to say. 

Dirk Pittaway, Managing Director of Robertson North West, said: “This world-famous site has been given a new lease of life and will enrich the lives of so many young people in the local area. Robertson has been proud to work with the Salvation Army on a project that will have such a positive impact on the community. The fantastic new hub will provide training, skills and valuable work experience for young adults that will enrich their lives. Our team are tremendously honoured to have been involved in this project and to be nominated for two RICS Social Impact Awards highlights the tremendous hard work that the entire team has put in.”

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