CONTRACTORS have been appointed to build the UK’s first Tree Health Centre.

Hobson & Porter Ltd, based in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, have won the contract for the purpose-built facility at the Yorkshire Arboretum, near Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, after it raised funds for the centre which will raise awareness of the increasing threats posed to trees by pests and diseases.

Capital funding for the project has come from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, £286,000 of the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (YNYER LEP) and from donations. Start-up and operating funding has come from The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

The centre, designed by SALT Architects of Beverley, will offer training courses by specialists for all levels of expertise on a commercial basis mixing classroom, lab and outdoor learning settings, as well as a public outreach programme.

Yorkshire Arboretum chief operating officer Mathew Harrison said: “We are delighted to announce Hobson & Porter Ltd as building contractors for the Tree Health Centre. They are keen to promote environmental preservation, and we believe their approach matches our core strategy and values.”

Sam Alexander, chair of YNYER LEP’s Skills and Employability Board, said: “The natural environment plays a vital role in our social and economic health as a region. It is crucial we have the skills available to protect Yorkshire landscapes and contribute to tree health in the UK and beyond. With the help of funding secured by the LEP, this specialist knowledge centre will build the capacity in the region to protect tree health and lead the way for others. We’re pleased to see the project reach this latest milestone.”

Arboretum Director John Grimshaw said: "We’ve been planning this building for ages, and it’s so exciting to see works starting at last. We look forward to delivering sound advice on the management of healthy trees for a healthy environment – a critical issue for us all."