Friday, 07 August 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Medical Facility Trust to be wound up

The Mercury Bay Medical Facility Trust will be wound up. The trust was established after Whitianga Waterways agreed in June 2016 to donate a 4,000m² block of land to the people of Mercury Bay for the purpose of developing and owning a facility providing a range of health services under one roof.

At the time, the Mercury Bay Community Board allocated $250,000 as “seed funding” towards the planning and consenting of the facility.

The land is situated at the corner of Joan Gaskell Drive and Kupe Drive in Whitianga, immediately to the west of the Whitianga Fire Station. A Waterways retirement village is intended to be developed adjacent to the land.

In late July last year, the trust entered into a memorandum of understanding with the owners of Mercury Bay Medical Centre (the “White House” general medical practice) to jointly investigate the feasibility of developing a multi-service health facility in Whitianga.

The agreement to donate the land was subject to a number of conditions, including the achievement of certain milestones. “The Mercury Bay Medical Facility Trust kept us informed of their progress all the way through,” says Leigh Hopper, the Whitianga Waterways developer. “For a variety of reasons they weren’t able to keep to the milestones. The donation was never going to be without considerable commercial consequences for us, and with the increase in land values the past few years and the progress we’re making with the planning and consenting of our retirement village, we’ve had to make the decision to bring an end to the agreement and make it a priority to develop the medical facility ourselves.

“The provision of whole-of-life medical care and how that will be incorporated into our retirement village is very much driving our thinking about the facility. We’re very happy to say that the Mercury Bay Medical Centre owners remain keen on seeing the development of a comprehensive medical facility in Whitianga and are working with us on making it happen.

“Ideally, over time, we would like to see the facility providing easier access to publicly-funded health care in addition to a birthing unit, day operating theatre and dementia care facility.”

Once developed, the Waterways retirement village will feature villas, independent living apartments, serviced apartments, an aged care facility (rest home) and a variety of communal facilities. “We really would like to contribute to Whitianga becoming a place people can enjoy all of their days, without the need to move away as they get older to access more specific health care,” says Leigh.

Over the past four years, the Mercury Bay Medical Facility Trust has used $40,000 of the seed funding allocated by the Mercury Bay Community Board. “The trustees were mindful to use the money available to us prudently,” says Murray McLean, chair of the trust. “We’ve researched a business case based on costs provided by a quantity surveyor, and looked at income from rental and philanthropic and community fundraising to make a medical facility viable. We’ve also investigated facilities in similar locations as Whitianga which have been developed in recent times.

“We would like to thank Whitianga Waterways for giving us the opportunity to see if we could get a facility off the ground. We understand their changing circumstances and the fact that it’s now more appropriate for them to take charge of the development of the facility.

“There’s no reason for the trust to exist any further and hence the decision for it to be wound up. We’re pleased to have been part of getting the ground work done and look forward to seeing a much-needed facility being provided to the community.”

Dr Hannah Walker, one of the Mercury Bay Medical Centre owners, says they are excited to be working with Whitianga Waterways to make the facility a reality. “Undoubtedly the facility will better serve the health needs of our growing community,” she says.

Pictured: The land on which Whitianga Waterways is planning to develop a medical facility and retirement village.

 

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