IN a newly painted and decorated Grade II listed building on New Road in Chippenham is a new independent veterinary practice.

Chalkland Vets opened this month and is run and owned by vets Selina Walters and Phillipa Hunt.

"We both worked in Swindon for a practice but wanted to set up in business," said Selina, "and we had both signed to say it had to be over ten miles away from the Swindon Vet.

"We looked around and felt that Chippenham was the right place."

The duo looked for suitable premises and by chance upon the former police station and council offices. With a care park at the back and lots of space it was what they wanted except said Selina it needed a lot of work to bring it up to scratch.

After agreeing a lease with the owner they spent more than £100,000 in replacing windows, heating, damp proofing, rewiring, painting putting in the equipment needed in a modern vets.

"We used a veterinary fit-out firm called Bright Star Veterinary near Oxford," she said, "who install new offices and surgeries for vets.

This included £100,000 of equipment specifically required for their work. A laparoscopic spays for keyhole surgery along with x-ray units, an operating theatre and cages and storage facilities for the patients.

"It's mainly cats and dogs," she explained, "but also small animals like guinea pigs and quite a few ferrets.

"As its very rural the dogs are often quite large but there are also some fashion dogs like Chihuahuas."

For the vets it has been a leap of faith in setting up the business which they hope to have a turn over of £350,000 a year. Prices are no more than other Wiltshire practices as they put in a lot of research to check how viable the practice could be.

Selina said: "It's been a leap of faith to open."