A REMOTE Snowdonia railway cottage associated with the secretive world of spies and a controversial £35m council building in Colwyn Bay have received prestigious building awards.

Coed Y Bleiddiau, a 19th century house alongside the Ffestiniog Railway, between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog, has won the ‘tourism and leisure’ category in the RICS Awards 2019. Coed Pella, the offices of Conwy County Borough Council, at Colwyn Bay, also won the award for ‘regeneration.’ The honours celebrate inspirational built initiatives in Wales, and the skills of the teams behind them.

The four-storey contemporary Coed Pella building opened in mid November, 2018, to mixed public reviews.

The restored Coed Y Bleiddiau, which is run as a holiday cottage, once housed renowned composer Sir Granville Bantock. He was friends with Harry ('Jack') St John Philby, British Arabist, explorer,author and colonial intelligence officer. He worked for the British Civil Service in the Middle East, in the 1920s, and became known as Sheikh Abdullah as he liked to adopt Arab dress. and customs.

In 1933 Bantock’s lease on Coed Y Bleiddiau was transferred to Philby, backdated to 1930. Philby rented it until 1947 bringing his wife, two daughters and son there. His son was Harold ‘Kim’ Philby, who would become notorious as one of the Russian double agents of the of the spy ring known as the 'Cambridge Five.'

Chair of the RICS Awards, 2019 Wales judging panel, Geraint Evans, said: "A diverse range of innovative projects, of all sizes and budgets, made the shortlist. The winners are truly representative of Wales’s best and most innovative built projects that are having a significant positive impact on their communities. Teams behind these winning projects should be proud of their exceptional achievements."

Twenty-three of Wales’ most impressive property schemes battled it out for top honours at the RICS Awards 2019, Wales, on May 1, when Llwyn Celyn, Abergavenny, one of the earliest surviving domestic buildings in Wales, took the overall ‘RICS Project of the Year, Wales’ title.

All category winners will go on to compete against other regional winners at the national RICS Awards Grand Final on Friday, October 4.