We are delighted to announce the Royal Institue of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)'s Project of the Year 2019 (West Midlands) is a property located right here in Staffordshire. The newly-constructed, Caudwell International Children's Centre (situated in Keele, Staffordshire) was among the winners at the event, and was highly commended by judges.

A diverse range of the West Midlands' most impressive and socially responsible property schemes battled it for top honours at the annual (West Midlands) RICS Awards - being held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The event's headline sponsor was building supplies company, Sika.

Project of the Year 2019: Caudwell International Children's Centre (Keele, Staffordshire)

The highly acclaimed 'Project of the Year' title is awarded to the scheme that demonstrates outstanding best practice throughout construction, and an exemplary commitment to adding social value to the project's local area.

Caudwell International Children's Centre (CICC) is located at Keele University's Science & Innovation Park, which neighbours Newcastle-under-Lyme - the £18million development is the UK's first independent purpose-built centre dedicated to multi-disciplinary services for the diagnosis, therapy and research of Autism.

The CICC's design epitomises 'inclusivity', with the unique project surpassing the UK's accessibility and sustainability standards. The building was purpose-built with autistic people in mind, and is able to provide 'sensory flexibility' for visitors with neurodivergent conditions, state-of-the-art assessment suites, a sensory garden to inspire children to interact with nature, as well as family training suites. The modern facility is expected to attract worldwide talent in the field of autism to the area.

The RICS judges commended the bespoke, purpose-built facility, saying that it is the first project of its kind in Europe. They were impressed with the team's collaborative effort and diligence when designing the property, ensuring that the building met the exact requirements of the end-user.

Calling it a landmark building, with a stunning 'butterfly' shape roof, the bespoke interior design was tailored to reduce anxiety flares for the building's clients. The innovative people-led project, backed by Caudwell Children, is improving the lives of thousands of children and their families across the UK. The result is a 'world class' facility, with national and international appeal, that will attract further investment to the area and serve as a model for follow-on centres across the UK.

Official NHS figures: Currently, 1 in 100 people in the UK are diagnosed with autism, whilst in the US, where diagnosis is more advanced, the figure is 1 in 68 – over a third more (which Caudwell Children suspects is a more accurate figure for the UK). Yet in the UK, only £4 million per year is spent on autism research...