CHESTER'S new theatre and library complex has bagged a top award for putting the community at its heart.

Storyhouse received a Special Award for Community Engagement and Impact at the Civic Trust Awards on Friday night.

From 234 applications, 60 national and international winners were presented with an award or commendation at the 59th Annual Civic Trust Awards.

The 80,700 sq ft building comprises a library, two theatres, a restaurant, bars, an independent cinema and community spaces.

Andrew Bentley, CEO at Storyhouse, said: ‘We are delighted to have won this prestigious award. Community engagement is at the heart of everything we do at Storyhouse; over 100 community groups regularly use the building to meet to discuss and debate their ideas. This award is testament to all that we have achieved since opening in May, we’re delighted!’

Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing at Cheshire West and Chester Council, added: “We are thrilled that the project has won this Civic Trust Special Award for Community Engagement and Impact as the community was at the centre of every decision we made throughout the planning and development of Storyhouse.

"Now open, it is fantastic to see how much the whole borough has embraced the facilities, residents and visitors are enjoying everything it has to offer. Storyhouse is an important step forward in realising the wider Chester Northgate vision.“

Cllr Stuart Parker, shadow cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Storyhouse has brought a new lease of life into the city centre, this award highlights the very people who ensured the building is what it is today, our residents.”

And Simon Erridge, director at Bennetts Associates, which designed the converted Odeon building on Northgate Street, said: “There is a social dimension to the project which goes beyond the provision of a new public building for the city. Storyhouse addresses a number of key issues including the importance of social art spaces in cities, the benefits of repurposing much loved but maligned buildings and the potential for culture led regeneration of town centres.

"The people of Chester have a genuine sense of ownership for Storyhouse that reflects the level of engagement during the design and construction phases."

Storyhouse has already won a host of awards including Best Refurbishment at the Building Awards, Best Public Building at the Brick Awards, Best Entertainment Venue at the FX Design Awards, Attraction of the Year at the Marketing Cheshire Awards and it was nominated Best Building at the Stage Awards.

After a decade long absence, Storyhouse has brought theatre and film back to Chester city centre, as well as art and literature – all under one roof with community at its heart.

Uses as diverse as coding workshops, book groups and a youth theatre are accommodated in the building and Storyhouse offers opportunities for volunteering and young people aged 14-25 to gain work experience.

Established in 1959, the Civic Trust Awards recognise outstanding architecture, planning and design in the built environment.