Home is where the award is for Wolverley architect

Kidderminster Shuttle: RAISING ROOF: Andrea Millner, centre, with, from left, Anna Thompson, director of training for Local Authority Building Control (LABC), Mark Brooks, product manager, Web Dynamics, The Drift project client Sadie Dykes and LABC president David Darlington. RAISING ROOF: Andrea Millner, centre, with, from left, Anna Thompson, director of training for Local Authority Building Control (LABC), Mark Brooks, product manager, Web Dynamics, The Drift project client Sadie Dykes and LABC president David Darlington.

WOLVERLEY architect Andrea Millner raised the roof as she clinched a top award for her work.

The 49-year-old won the title for best individual new home in the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) awards West of England region.

The accolade was for her work to design and steer through the planning and construction of a seven-bedroomed house, called The Drift, in the Rowney Green area of Alvechurch, near Redditch. It features floor-to-ceiling glazed gables.

Ms Millner, who was presented with her award during a ceremony in Bristol, said: “My heart was pounding and my legs went to jelly as they announced me as the winner.

“It was amazing to receive such high-level recognition of my work, especially as I am a single-handed practitioner, so don’t usually get the chance to get feedback from colleagues. I am absolutely over the moon.”

A total of 31 homes had been entered for the category - two of them were designed by Ms Millner. She had been invited to submit them by North Worcestershire Building Control officers, who felt they reflected excellence in the way she and her construction teams had wrestled with difficult sites to find creative solutions.

“Both of my shortlisted projects involved working closely with planners to gain permission and building control approval for innovative new homes to overcome issues specific to the sites involved,” she said.

She was commissioned by the owners of The Drift to design an extension to their existing four-bedroomed home, originally built in the early 1970s, but she ended up proposing that the existing house should be demolished and replaced with a new home with seven bedrooms, all en suite, with little cost difference.

“We used the existing foundations and kept the old drainage and underground services for the new building, with a huge cost saving,” she said.

Her second shortlisted project, at Woodgate, is in the greenbelt, where new homes are generally restricted on their size but Ms Millner managed to get approval for a large home, which won the support of planners.

Adrian Wyre, building control manager for the North Worcestershire Partnership, who put forward the projects for the awards, said: “Andrea shies away from the mundane - even her extension projects have a distinction about them.

“The Drift shows a lot of creativity and there was good teamwork between Andrea, the contractors and our building control service. The use of the existing foundations and services was a bonus for green conservation.”

Brierley Hill born and bred, Ms Millner broke the mould as a teenager at the Pensnett School, when she was the only girl to study woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing instead of domestic sciences.

She graduated from the Birmingham School of Architecture as one of the top two students on her course and has since worked on designs including a £1 million apartment in Birmingham, a women’s refuge in Ludlow and villas abroad, as well as new houses and extensions.

A showcase for her work is her own family home, where she lives with her family, next to the Drakelow tunnels in Wolverley. The site used to house the heavy goods and maintenance sheds for the former Regional Seat of Government at the tunnels, off Kingsford Lane.

Features include a moat around three sides of the large glazed dining room, subterranean therapy pool and a small lake created to catch the site’s rainwater.

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