WORK is finally under way on a new, state-of-the-art health centre in Colburn, Catterick Garrison.

The first turf was cut at a ceremony yesterday, marking the start of the £800,000 building project, which should be complete by autumn.

When the new facilities open, the area will be able to boast some of the best health services in the region.

Designed by specialists Trinity Med-ical Properties and constructed by Randall Orchard, the building will replace the current facilities on Broadway in Catterick Garrison.

It will include a small operating theatre and recovery room for outpatients, an additional treatment room as well as space for four offices for local GPs.

A carer, health visitor, district nurse and a dietician will also have their own rooms in the two-storey building, which will house a physiotherapy department and a massage and therapy centre.

A separate office will also be set aside for a visiting consultant, saving some patients a long trip to Northallerton or Cleveland for relatively short appointments.

Trinity spokesman Chris Morton-Smith said: "It will make a huge difference to doctors from the Catterick surgery who are having to work in cramped conditions.

The building is going up on land which was originally earmarked for industry.

However, Richmondshire District Council set aside its own policies to give the health centre the all-clear after 500 people signed a petition urging the authority to support the project.

The scheme also includes a pedestrian crossing on Catterick Road as well as a new access on to the nearby Walkerville Industrial Estate.

Meanwhile, Colburn hosts a briefing on the future of health services in the district on Thursday.

Ken Hoskins, of the Hambleton and Richmondshire Primary Care Group, is the guest speaker at an open forum at the village hall at 10.30am, where the emphasis will be on services for the over-60s