A BUILDER has joined forces with an architect to oversee the construction of a £4.5m healthcare centre of excellence.

Surgo Construction is working alongside Howarth Litchfield on the Centre for Process Innovation’s (CPI) National Centre for Healthcare Photonics, based at NetPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The base will be used to support the development of next generation medical treatments, and the agreement comes after Surgo and Durham City-based Howarth Litchfield worked together on a sister CPI National Formulation Centre, also at NetPark.

The photonics unit, expected to open later this year, will provide open access facilities to help firms and universities develop light-based technology to diagnose and monitor acute and chronic conditions.

The Northern Echo understands such work will include the scaling up of remedies for cancers and brain injuries, and whether a skin burn can heal naturally or requires grafting.

David Pickersgill, Howarth Litchfield project architect and director, said: “The new building will have a high-profile on the park and its visual impact and quality of finish inside and out should be impressive.”

Jeff Alexander, director at Newcastle-based Surgo, added: “We are pleased to be working again with Howarth Litchfield.

“It is a very tight site with many trees, so the building extension (the photonics centre will be accessed through the formulation centre lobby) has been designed very carefully to maintain existing planting while not compromising laboratory and office space.”

He revealed the contract means it is the third time Surgo has worked at NetPark, with its first occasion coming in 2011 on a pod and clean room facility.

The photonics endeavour has benefited from £8.3m backing from the Local Growth Fund, through the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership, and Dr Tom Harvey, CPI’s strategic programmes manager for healthcare photonics, said the centre’s importance should not be underestimated.

He added: “The centre will provide the expertise and facilities that companies need to be able to bring new products to commercialisation faster and with less risk.

“We appointed Surgo, together with Howarth Litchfield, due to a number of factors including their experience of working at NetPark and successful completion of similar projects.”