THE £2million Creative Exchange, which was opened in St Neots late last year as a launch-pad for small companies in the creative sector, has been short-listed for a national architecture award. The creative sector is one of four areas of the economy that

THE £2million Creative Exchange, which was opened in St Neots late last year as a launch-pad for small companies in the creative sector, has been short-listed for a national architecture award.

The creative sector is one of four areas of the economy that Huntingdonshire District Council believes will underpin the district's economic expansion and help provide the 15,000 new jobs that will be needed over the next 20 years to support a rapidly-expanding population.

The Exchange, the brainchild of the council's economic development team, has been funded by HDC, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Government, through the East of England Development Agency.

Last week, it was included on the shortlist for this year's Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award. The winner will be announced on October 14.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, which is advising the Government on the competition said the shortlist "reveals how 'architecture of the everyday' - streets, schools, bridges and stations - easily ranks among the most imaginative and beautiful designs being built today.

"The award is unique in requiring both efficient procurement and excellent design," CABE added. "The 24 projects, chosen from 125 entries from around the country, also represent the biggest ever shortlist. There were 21 projects on last year's shortlist, and 18 the year before."

CABE said of the Creative Exchange: "With an exposed concrete frame and two cantilevered levels, this new public arts centre, which brings together galleries, events spaces and workshops for creative companies, is a bold addition to the growth corridor of St Neots."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown explained: "We are absolutely committed to good quality, sustainable public buildings and infrastructure, as we believe that buildings that work efficiently and effectively improve the lives of those working in and around them and mean better public services.

"These projects show how creative design can make a real difference to how buildings and places work and can deliver public buildings that the community can take pride in.