FOUR Gwent building projects, including three in Newport, are shortlisted for prestigious awards known as the Oscars of the property industry.

Beechwood House and Malpas Court, both in Newport, will contest the building conservation category in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards for 2009, along with a scheme at the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd.

And the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) environmental centre at Newport Wetlands, and the Ebbw Valley Railway have made the community benefit category shortlist, with Swansea's Gorseinon Centre.

Twelve projects have been selected overall from entries across Wales. Category winners will also have the chance of being named Welsh Project of the Year 2009.

"The RICS Awards are known as the Oscars of the industry. It is a real coup to be shortlisted, let alone win," said Kathryn Cook, regional manager of RICS Wales.

"Assessors are looking for how professionals have used their skills to develop, regenerate and conserve the world we live in, as well as evidence of their commitment to value for money and sustainability.

"It may be a tough time in the property industry at present but that gives us all the more reason to celebrate the amazing projects out there at the moment."

Andrew Cross, director of Powell Dobson, architects behind the RSPB centre, said it is "hugely satisfying" to be put forward for the award for a project enjoyed by many local people of all ages.

"It was a great project to become involved in because the architectural aspirations were set so high," he said.

The Ebbw Valley Railway project saw passenger services reintroduced between Ebbw Vale and Cardiff, with 18 miles of track upgraded and a three-mile passing loop, new signalling and six new stations installed.

"The project is a bit unusual because the focus was on regeneration as well as transport improvement by the local authority," said David McCallum, associate of project contractors Capita Symonds.

"It aimed to improve access from the valley to Cardiff and the coastal plain. A huge amount of work gone into this project over 10 years."

RICS Wales winners, announced later this month, will contest UK awards with other regional winners in the autumn.