Plenty of options at old Queen Mary

By Colin Taylor

Size and scale of three historic buildings offer limitless opportunities.

The three buildings within the grounds of the former Queen Mary Hospital in Hanmer Springs are for lease.

Inland Revenue. Photo / Janna Dixon
The three buildings within the grounds of the former Queen Mary Hospital in Hanmer Springs are for lease. Inland Revenue. Photo / Janna Dixon

Leases for three buildings within the historic former Queen Mary Hospital complex at Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury have been placed on the market by Bayleys, with redevelopment into an accommodation facility being one possibility.

Built in 1916, the Queen Mary Hospital occupied a 5.1 hectare site and surrounding reserve, initially operating as a convalescent home for soldiers injured in World War I - utilising the medical benefits believed to be obtained from bathing in the nearby thermal waters.

The hospital later became a treatment centre for those with functional nervous disorders, and then an internationally recognised facility for the treatment of drug and alcohol dependencies until 2003.

Bayleys Canterbury salesperson Harry van Tongeren, who is marketing the property for lease alongside Bayleys Canterbury salesperson Kathryn Duncan, said the lease of buildings and reserve was being offered on an all or part basis, with expressions of interest invited by September 28.

The ownership of the property was passed from the Canterbury District Health Board to the Department of Conservation in 2008. It was subsequently vested in the Hurunui District Council as an historic and recreational reserve. The large site contains the hospital's three oldest buildings and was registered as a Category One site by the Historic Places Trust in 2005.

These three buildings are the Soldiers Block built in 1916, the Chisholm Block built in 1926 and the Nurses Hostel, which was added to the hospital in 1956.

Van Tongeren says the size and scale of the buildings, the large grounds, and location next to the thermal pools mean the property is open to a number of developments that could include an upmarket accommodation complex similar to Millbrook Resort near Queenstown.

"The location is second to none, with access to Hanmer Springs from State Highway 7A and Christchurch just 135kms to the south," he said.

"The sheer size and scale of the three buildings have created a lot of future opportunities for various business developments. In our view, this is the most significant public and commercial property opportunity of any scale in North Canterbury."

The Soldier's Block has a total floor space of 1850 square metres and is the only double-octagonal shaped ward still standing in New Zealand. As such it is celebrated as a building of national significance. Van Tongeren says the unique shape of the building could also lend itself for use as a museum or gallery, but possibilities could also include offices, a restaurant or conference facilities.

The Chisholm Ward was named after Dr Percy Chisholm, the first superintendent at Queen Mary, and operated as a women's only hospital block. It consists of two symmetrical wings with a total floor area of 1570sq m, comprising rooms and wards, nurse's station, dining room, lounge, sun wards and a large veranda. It also has an additional 36sq m basement. Potential uses for the ward include redevelopment as a hotel, motel, a health spa, gallery or as an educational facility.

The two-level nurse's residential hostel, built for the hospital's medical team and nurses, is an 850sq m building comprising eight self-contained flats and 40 single rooms, a nurses' lounge and sitting rooms, and a lecture room.

"The design and layout lends itself for potential use as a boutique hotel, motel, backpacker accommodation, or as private apartments, either combined with, or separate, from the Chisholm Ward," says Van Tongeren. "Alternatively, it could also suit someone looking to develop an artist's quarters, offices, conference or educational facilities."

Surrounding all of the buildings is a park-like reserve which could provide further opportunities to build or develop independently or in conjunction with any of the buildings on offer.

Hurunui District Council amenities and special projects manager Bruce Yates says any development of the Queen Mary Hospital buildings or grounds will need to comply with the stipulations in the Queen Mary Historic Reserve Management Plan 2011, which promotes use of the reserve for the community and business purposes in ways that are consistent with the values of "wellness" in its widest context. However, the plan was written in a way in which the council would be able to consider a wide range of activities.

- NZ Herald

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