Cranford Hospice patron John Buck was understandably delighted at the response and the feedback he received during a series of public meetings staged last month to go through a recommendation that the region's hospice needs to move.

A move from the site it first opened its doors at in 1982 at Knight St, Hastings, to a tranquil slice of the region's rural landscape at Chesterhope Station off Pakowhai Rd, in the wake of a generous offer of land and the buildings which were owned by the Joan Fernie Charitable Trust.

"There was nothing but positivity," he said.

"It could not have been better."

Advertisement

Back in July, the Cranford Hospice Foundation, Cranford Hospice Trust and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board jointly announced they were undertaking a business case, prepared by Sapere Research Group, so they could adapt for the future growth of a modern specialist palliative care facility.

Mr Buck, chairman of the Cranford Hospice Foundation, said the analysis recommended Chesterhope Station as the preferred location.

What they saw, and envisaged, was identified as a "future focused" hospice facility, with a report by Turley and Co property consultants revealing that the age, construction and location of the hospice's current site on Knight St limited the opportunity for growth, expansion and modernisation.

In terms of location the Chesterhope site is as good as it could get as the homestead and surroundings are located midway between Napier and Hastings and it is accessed directly from Pakowhai Rd, on one of the main arterials between the two cities.

It is set within a secluded rural location surrounded by an arboretum of trees, complete with its own lake and gardens.

Some of the trees were brought out from Kew Gardens in Southwest London back in 1910.
Mr Buck said it had become clear the Knight St site was too limited for the needs of the hospice in the coming years, and the foundation had been looking at various sites for some time.

"Then this amazingly generous offer was made - I took a big gulp because to get a site like that was beyond our wildest dreams."

But there is still quite a journey ahead.

"Now we must go through the many processes but we have a lot of support for this and I have no doubt at all it will all go well."

The resource consent path has to be travelled, and there will be meetings with councils and other agencies to go over everything from sanitation to traffic control and accessibility.

"All the normal functions for a new building."

The process was already under way with the Cranford Foundation's placing last Saturday of a public notice for "expressions of Interest" for architectural and project management positions in the construction of the hospice, which Mr Buck hopes to see get under way by the end of next year, with an anticipated December 2020 opening.

He said there had been a couple of initial responses already.

In terms of the name "Cranford" being retained Mr Buck said there were no suggestions it would be changed.

"There is no intention of that - Cranford stays."

The foundation is now preparing to put together a preliminary budget which would involve funding negotiations.

Mr Buck said the Government would be a "significant" contributor to that, while there were already early indications there would likely be a "great philanthropic response".

The development of the new hospice was a true community project, as he doubted there was anyone anywhere who had not been affected in some way by the illnesses such places responded to in such a valuable and devoted way.

"We are not going to be limited any more - we can build the best hospice in the world."

The old homestead on the station will not be part of the great plans as it was not in the best of shape, although some historical aspects of it would be retained.

The new hospice will be just that - a brand new facility and one that would incorporate many elements of a community "hub".

As Mr Buck put it - "a lot of ideas to explore".

The will have plenty of room to play with.

The Knight St facility is spread across about three quarters of an acre while the Chesterhope Station site offers up about 15 acres.

There is potential for day clinics, adult family facilities, education rooms, places for children as well as a creche.

"A lot of potential."

Mr Buck has had a long association with Cranford Hospice and has passionately supported it since he and two other local winemakers, Alan Limmer and Kate Radburnd, sparked the hugely successful and now annual fundraising event, the Hawke's Bay Charity Wine Auction, back in 1991 - 26 years ago.

They chatted about establishing some sort of event for the regional wine industry to demonstrate its ability to be a contributing member of the community, as well as promoting Hawke's Bay wine to the rest of the country.

Cranford Hospice was approached with the idea of a charity wine auction, and the green light went on and there is no plan for it to ever go off.

Since then the auction has drawn in about $2.8 million for the hospice.

"It stems from the fact that the wine industry, worldwide, supports hospices," Mr Buck said.

In France the burgundy wine industry has been a long-time supporter, as have been the industries of California and Victoria in Australia.

"So we are now doing the same here."

Mr Buck said he, and many others, had no hesitation in putting in the time and effort for establishments like Cranford Hospice.

"I believe if you are successful in your community then you have an obligation to put something back into it."

In terms of attaining the crucial funding target for the new hospice Mr Buck said he was optimistic as he wanted to see Hawke's Bay step up and build the best hospice in the world.

"We can do that."