AN AWARD-winning construction firm in the New Forest has ceased trading just months after completing two high-profile projects in the county.

Drew Construction in Station Road, New Milton, has gone into administration in a move that has sent shockwaves through the local community.

At least 20 jobs are thought to be at risk following the demise of the 110-year-old company.

Drew recently completed Marwell Zoo's state-of-the-art Tropical House - the first in the UK to be powered by waste.

Last year it built the new STEM Centre at the award-winning Brockenhurst College.

Funded largely by the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, the multi-million-pound building is the result of collaboration between the college, computer giant IBM and the University of Southampton.

Last night members of New Milton Town Council voiced their shock and dismay at Drew's decision to cease trading.

Cllr David Hawkins, a former town mayor, said: "I'm very surprised to hear the news. I'd never have thought in a month of Sundays that anything like this would happen.

"The company has built an awful of New Milton and still owns quite a bit of land in the area. I had no idea they were having any problems."

Cllr Steve Clarke added: "Drew is one of the oldest businesses in New Milton.

"What's happened is very sad, especially when you consider how long they have been in the town and how much they have contributed."

Customers hit by the company's collapse include Sovereign Housing Association.

A Sovereign spokesman said: "We were naturally very sorry to hear one of our contractors, H H Drew Construction, has gone into administration.

"We're committed to delivering seven new affordable homes at Melbourne Road and Tensing Road in Christchurch and will be looking for a new contractor to get on site as soon as possible."

In the past few months Drew has received several awards for the quality of its construction work.

In March it was honoured by the National Federation of Builders, receiving a "highly commended" in the New Build Project of the Year category following the completion of a major housing scheme in Bournemouth.

The company's collapse comes just months after the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for more government support for the building industry.

FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “There is no denying that the UK’s housing market is in a state of arrested development and is in desperate need of a stimulus.

"Small housebuilders have huge potential to play this role if they are given the keys to do so."