Basic student accommodation only five years ago, Buckland House, by John Wood the Younger, took top honours at last week’s Georgian Group Architectural Awards, now an established fixture in the architectural calendar. Winning the Restoration of a Georgian Country House award, the Oxfordshire building underwent the removal of 22 student flats as part of the restoration process-26 tons of lead were recast for the roof. Yet when the current owners began the project, the house was listed on the Heritage At Risk register.

In these times of austerity, Robert Bargery, Georgian Group secretary, stressed that heritage restoration offers a good return on investment. ‘We were expecting a dip in the number of entries after three years of serious economic jitters, so the low number of pro-jects being cancelled or mothballed is really encouraging.’ Mr Bargery went on to say that, in tough financial times, the role of organisations such as the Georgian Group is increasingly important.

‘It has a lot to do with an increasing awareness that heritage restoration projects have a lasting regenerative impact, add genuine value, give a good return on investment, act as a catalyst to wider regeneration and provide an anchor for new development.’

The 2010 shortlist featured a diverse group of inspiring success stories

* Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape: Robert Surman’s previously neglected Rococo garden at Valentines Park in the London Borough of Redbridge
* The Giles Worsley Award for a New Building in a Georgian Context: the new Southgate Centre in Bath by Chapman Taylor
* New Building in the Classical Tradition: the new undergraduate building at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
* Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting: won jointly by Buckingham Palace, for the restoration of the east elevation of the quadrangle, and by Lancaster House, for its extensive façade cleaning, stone repair and redecoration
* Reuse of a Georgian Building: The 1820s Dandridge’s Mill, at East Hanney, Oxfordshire
* Restoration of a Georgian Church: St Alkmund’s, Shrews-bury, Shropshire
* Honourable Mention for Craftmanship: The Monument, City of London

The awards were presented by Baroness Andrews, chair of English Heritage. Sponsored by Savills, they are crucial in raising awareness of the restoration of Georgian buildings and landscapes across Britain. For full details of the winners and nominations, visit www.georgiangroup.org.uk