A PET hospital serving animal-owners from across the North of England has unveiled plans to double in size to meet demand.

Wear Referrals, at Bradbury, near Sedgefield, is proposing to build an almost mirror image of the existing veterinary hospital to accommodate the anticipated 80 patients per 24-hour period.

The move would also create a further 62 full time equivalent posts - boosting numbers from the current 94 to 156.

In a planning statement prepared by JDDK Architects, on behalf of the hospital, it states: “Wear Referrals’ business activities have grown exponentially since moving into the current hospital on the site in June 2015.

“This rapid growth is leading to capacity issues in terms of available clinical, administrative and staff space, inside and outside the building.”

If approved by Durham County Council, the applicant hopes the expansion would help it become one of the leading veterinary specialist centres in the UK.

The hospital already offers a highly specialised and skilled service for small animal specialist diagnostics, treatment and surgery, by referral from other veterinary practitioners elsewhere between Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Glasgow and Edinburgh and runs a full emergency and out-of-hours services for primary care practices.

The new two-storey sister building would be a similar scale to the existing hospital and would be linked with a corridor. Similar to the existing structure, it would be broken into three smaller elements with differing roof designs in a bid to “minimise the visual impact of the building on the site”.

The internal arrangement and facilities will follow a similar layout.

JDDK Architects stated: “The arrangement of accommodation in the existing veterinary hospital has proved very successful with an efficient flow of staff and patient movement through the spaces, as well as successfully separating staff support facilities and customers from the clinical spaces.”

However, some facilities have not been duplicated, including the MRI and CT areas, while other facilities, such as operating theatres and staff space, have been enhanced.

Proposals would also see the creation of new parking areas, bringing the number of spaces up to 147, with designated areas for clients, professional visitors and staff.

In 2016 the hospital was named outstanding at the County Durham Environment Awards for its eco-friendliness.