STOURBRIDGE'S state-of-the-art £8.5million new GP surgery is just two-and-a-half weeks away from opening.

Doctors from the town's Worcester Street Surgery have been working with developers Amphion Construction and Abacus Architects to transform the old Foster and Rastrick foundry, off Lowndes Road, into an ultra-modern super surgery - believed to be one of the biggest in the UK.

Just 14 months after work began - the new Lion Health centre is nearing completion and when finished it will comprise 36 consulting rooms, an enhanced nursing suite, minor surgery unit, physio suite and gym, onsite pharmacy and dental surgery, blood testing clinic, small lecture theatre and teaching area for medical students from the University of Birmingham - plus 132 parking spaces outside.

The new 30,000 square foot facility, located next to the River Stour and overlooking Stourbridge Canal, will provide GP services for 25,000 patients and Dr Carol Griffiths said: "Half of Stourbridge are going to come in through the doors."

She added: "It's been an enormous project. The architects and us have had many a late night sitting over the plans but we've had a great team and I think it's going to be a great facility for Stourbridge."

The building, a Grade II listed former Georgian foundry which built the famous Stourbridge Lion steam engine - the first train to run in the USA in 1829, has been carefully revamped to retain its wrought and cast iron unsupported single span roof which was the largest in the world when it was constructed in 1820.

Dr Griffiths added: "We've tried to be really faithful to the history of the building."

The building has also been extended with a modern glass fronted section and replica steam engine pistons and cylinders have been utilised to help create a canopy for the centre - which is dotted with various pieces of artwork by Stourbridge artists Paul Floyd, Vic Bamforth and Paul Richardson and history boards by Wollaston historian Dr Paul Collins to highlight the site's heritage.

Leading primary healthcare investors Primary Health Properties have taken ownership of the site and will lease the building back to the GP practice on a long lease.

The new facility will open to patients on Monday April 14 and medics hope its completion will prompt further regeneration in the run-down part of the town.

A formal opening will be held in a few months time.