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Updated: Jun 25

Orchard House Vets Team Stood Outside Practice

Refurbishment work at Orchard House Veterinary Centre’s premises in Stocksfield is now complete, creating more consulting rooms and staff areas to cope with its growing patient list.

The challenging project, which took place while the practice was fully operational, created the need for a series of mini project phases and heralded a return to collaborative working for the award-winning Durham-based architect, Howarth Litchfield, and Orchard House founding vet, Tim Pearson.

The two companies originally teamed up in 2016 to create the Orchard House premises in Bellingham, where a former police station on Fountain View was converted into Orchard House Veterinary Centre’s next surgery at the time.

As before, Howarth Litchfield was appointed because of the firm’s practical experience of both the veterinary sector and building refurbishment.

Orchard House Veterinary Centre in Stocksfield has been operational since 2004. Howarth Litchfield was brought in during 2021 to submit the planning application to extend the building, which involved liaising with the building control team, redesigning the new internal layouts and the procurement and appointment of a building contractor, Ryton Construction, to undertake the work.

The six-month construction programme is due to complete by the end of the month and will double surgery capacity. It will provide a second consulting room, a spacious operating theatre and patient preparation area with new specialist lighting, while the air conditioning and mechanical heat recovery and ventilation will make a massive difference to staff comfort. In fact, staff will now have a staff room and kitchen rather than a cramped space which was little more than a cupboard.

Commenting on the works, Tim Pearson, said:

“Neil and the team at Howarth Litchfield have a wide range of knowledge and skills from other building projects as well as veterinary and healthcare projects, so I have been very happy with the service from them, patiently reviewing the plans to give us exactly what we want and providing fantastic support with specialist reports and planning. I have been particularly impressed and grateful for the phasing of the works which has allowed us to continue working in the building, taking the pressure off our other branch in Hexham and maintaining cash flow.

“With the refurbishment and redevelopment of the building we will be able to offer a much better consulting service, more nurse appointments and better surgical and dental care. There will also be heated cat and dog cages and walk-in kennels with heated floors, which will improve patient comfort.”

Neil Turner, director of Howarth Litchfield, added:

“We are highly experienced in this field and understand the importance of establishing the correct adjacencies in a veterinary or healthcare setting. Through this refurbishment, we have demonstrated our ability to convert and improve simple buildings, even when in use, so that there is an all-round better experience for staff and visitors to Orchard House.

“By extending the building and repositioning some of the consulting rooms, we now have a much better layout, space for the staff to unwind at break time and enhanced facilities for the many animals in the care of Orchard House.

“It has been a successful project and we look forward to working with Tim in the future – hopefully on his next project – the conversion or building of a much larger main surgery in Hexham.”

For the chosen building contractor, Ryton Construction, the works involved modernising the existing surgery and breaking through into the original semi-detached bungalow, updating plumbing, heating and electrical works, floor finishes and decorations as well as some demolition and reconfiguration of the existing room layouts.

Jonathan Ross, managing director of Ryton Construction, added: “We were very pleased to be selected for this project by Howarth Litchfield. We have been able to develop a good reputation over the last six years since I set up Ryton Construction. We win much of our work through recommendation because we are known for our trustworthiness and high standard of workmanship.

“It was challenging keeping the surgery open whilst works were being carried out. This was only possible because of our good working relationship with the Orchard House Veterinary staff and Howarth Litchfield, thus enabling us to limit disruption throughout the three phases of the contract.”


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