A NEW retirement home close to the centre of Great Malvern could improve the character of the area for the next century.

That's the opinion of judges fromMalvern Civic Society, which has named Cartwright Court, off Church Street , the winner of its 2014 Civic Award.

Cartwright Court, which contains 54 retirement homes, was built by developer McCarthy and Stone on the site of a former council office and car park.

The judging panel was impressed with the building's "dignified exterior" with Italianate towers, and the relaxed, spacious character of the communal rooms.

John Dixon, chairman of the award committee, said: "The committee felt that Cartwright Court has already had a major influence in improving the character of a whole area of Malvern and that it would probably continue to do so for the next century."

Gill Sabin of McCarthy and Stone said: “We are thrilled and honoured that our Malvern development has won such a prestigious award. We work hard to ensure all our properties are built to a high standard and that we listen to our potential homeowners.”

The awards seek to encourage high standards of planning and architectural design in Malvern.

Runners-up this year were a disused chapel in Malvern Wells and a former fives court off College Grove.

Holywell Chapel, the former chapel of Wells House prep school, was a corrugated iron 'tin tabernacle' erected from a kit in 1904.

After the school closed, the chapel became derelict and faced demolition, until Steve Dodd of Elevate Design took it on.

With his design team of architects Boughton Butler and structural engineer Peter Barnsley, Mr Dodd has transformed it into a stunning modern home with unforgettable views.

The former fives court was converted by Tom Harris, who reckons it is one of only two fives courts in private ownership, and who has turned it into a bijou apartment with all mod cons.

The winner’s plaque will be presented as part of the Malvern Civic Week programme in July.