CIVIL engineers Henderson Campbell has won an £8m prison construction contract.

The company, based in Guisborough, North Yorkshire, will help build secure custodial accommodation at Whatton Prison, near Nottingham.

The contract win follows the firm being awarded a Home Office Project Partnering Contract (PPC), which is a framework agreement making Henderson Campbell a preferred bidder for contracts in prisons and immigration centres for the next ten years.

Henderson Campbell director Antony Henderson said the long-term nature of the agreement gave the company the security to expand.

"We can invest in staff, purchase plant and make plans to grow the company," he said.

The workforce has increased by 15 per cent since the Home Office deal, and the firm now employs 50 staff.

It has also invested in more than £400,000 of plant equipment from TC Harrison in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The Whatton Prison project will use modular building sections that are manufactured off-site.

This means that the project can be completed within 18 months - almost half the time it would take if conventional building techniques were used.

Mr Henderson said: "Pre-engineered buildings offer huge advantages over a traditional build.

"By the time the units arrive on site they are 80 per cent complete, so it takes little time and minimal disruption to turn it into a usable facility.

"The market for pre-engineered buildings is growing and is predicted to account for 45 per cent of the building industry by 2010. We can transfer our skills to any sector so we are very optimistic about the future."