THE Backstage Centre has scooped a prestigious gong for its contribution to the regeneration of Thurrock.

The £13million rehearsal and training centre, located on the High House Production Park in Purfleet, picked up the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors regional award at a ceremony in St Albans.

The centre was also highly commended by RICS - the professional qualifications and standards in land, property and construction body - for the benefit it offers the community.

Judges looked for a scheme that has “conserved or improved the environment” in a way that has “contributed to the viability of the area”.

And Stephen Boniface, chairman of the RICS East of England judges, said: “The judges were impressed with what is perhaps a world class training facility in Thurrock.

"The award recognises that The Backstage Centre is attracting students, users and visitors from far afield and in turn this has brought about jobs and opportunities for local people.

“The development provides a multi-function building that enables students to learn their craft in the world of entertainment.

“The Backstage Centre is a central element of High House Production Park and fittingly provides a stunning facility.”

The Backstage Centre, which neighbours the Bob and Tamara Manoukian Workshop and the ACME High House Artists’ Studios on the Vellacott Close park, was opened by Squeeze star and TV pianist Jools Holland in March last year.

It has since welcomed Leona Lewis and Diversity for show rehearsals and cast members from Towie for filming. South Essex College also uses the centre for its sound stage, recording studios and training rooms.

The centre was built by Creative and Cultural Skills, the training and development organisation for the creative industries’ workforce, in response to a need for over 6,500 new jobs in the live music and theatre industries by 2017.

Pauline Tambling, CCS CEO, said: “From the outset the High House project was about providing a reason for our world-class creative industries to come to Thurrock, and also to encourage local talent to stay in the area and aspire for the best jobs.”

Andrea Stark, Chief Executive of the High House Production Park, said: “We’re now looking forward to the next phase of development at High House Production Park, with work due to start on the Royal Opera House’s Costume Centre in June.”

The Backstage Centre will now be entered to win the national RICS award.