A FLAGSHIP £3.5m animal hospital and veterinary care centre in Northumberland is on course to welcome its first patients in less than three weeks’ time.
The state-of-the-art building on the outskirts of Morpeth will provide a new headquarters for Robson and Prescott, the town’s oldest veterinary practice.
The firm’s 50 staff will move from the town centre site to the new surgery on Whorral Bank, to make way for the development of a £24m Morrisons supermarket at Low Stanners by Dransfield Properties.
The expansion will create seven new jobs – including two vets’ posts – and construction work on the HQ is expected to be completed on July 13, with the facility opening to patients three days later.
A topping out ceremony was held in March and yesterday the practice and its building contractors held a preview day at the 3.5-acre site, which has parking for 60 cars, horse boxes and stock trailers.
Robson and Prescott, which has been in Morpeth since 1938 and has a client base of 32,000, is one of several businesses whose relocation costs are being funded by Dransfield Properties to make way for the new supermarket.
Its new base is a former council salt depot and is being built by North East contractor Tolent, which started work last October. Staff have begun the process of packing up veterinary equipment and supplies in what will be a major logistical operation.
The new building is three times bigger than their current base in Staithes Lane, which has been the practice’s home since 1982. It includes four operating theatres, a dental suite, laboratory, X-ray room, ultrasound and endoscopy facilities, separate wards for dogs, cats, birds, small mammals and exotics, a physio and hydrotherapy suite, six consulting rooms and a large animal and equine wing with loose boxes and surgical facilities.
The Whorral Bank site also includes a paddock, manege and stabling facilities.
Robson and Prescott employs 52 staff, including 14 veterinary surgeons, 11 qualified veterinary nurses, four trainee nurses and three nursing auxiliaries.
Yesterday practice manager Shelagh Prescott said: “So many people in Northumberland are talking about the new site because it is in such a prominent position. I think we have a most attractive building which blends into the countryside and surrounding landscape, and this is important as it is at a gateway to Morpeth.
“For a mixed practice the new facilities will be among the best in the country and up to hospital standard. Moving from Staithes Lane is the end of an era, because we have been in this part of Morpeth since 1938, but we’re going to have such excellent facilities and clients will find access very easy.”
Mark Dransfield, managing director of Dransfield Properties, said: “Ensuring that companies can relocate and take the opportunity to expand and grow is a hugely important part of our development process, and we were delighted to find the right relocation site for the veterinary practice”.
HEDGEHOG FEELING PERKY AGAIN
VETERINARY staff were faced with a prickly problem - after the recent torrential rain left a baby hedgehog an orphan and struggling to survive.
The tiny hedgehog - who was named Harry by nurses at Robson and Prescott - was suffering from hypothermia after being found abandoned following the downpours.
At this time of year he should be tucked up in his nest being looked after by his mother, so staff at the Staithes Lane surgery had to hand rear him. Luckily, Harry was able to make such a good recovery that he has now been sent to a specialist hedgehog rescue centre to continue his convalescence.
Robson and Prescott director and senior vet Chris Green said: "We don’t know what happened to his mother unfortunately, so our nurses had to hand rear him at our surgery.
"He’s much better now, has gained weight and will hopefully be re-introduced to a garden during the summer."