Bupa starts work at Riccarton site

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 05/07/2014

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A United Kingdom retirement home operator has started preliminary works for a $50 million village, to be built in stages at the site of the old Feltex carpet factory in Upper Riccarton.

Bupa Care Services has gained council consents and is preparing the site for civil works on 2.8 hectares of land next to a New World supermarket in Peer St, Christchurch.

The company paid $9.4m for the site.

An earlier landowner Vision Senior Living (later owned by Metlifecare) also had plans for retirement services but pulled out.

Auckland-based Bupa Care Services managing director Grainne Moss said Bupa was stepping up, whereas Metlifecare had stepped away.

"We're just actually breaking the ground in Ilam . . . it will be our biggest greenfields (New Zealand) site ever," Moss said.

"Metlifecare didn't want to invest in the South Island and we did," she said.

The village would probably be apartment style with four main complexes for independent living units, Moss said.

Stage one would include 88 apartments and 100 care beds. Bupa had consent for 180 apartments.

It would also feature other village facilities such as a theatre, but likely not a swimming pool. The first residents would likely be living on the Ilam site in the middle of 2015.

Across New Zealand Bupa had a slightly cheaper than some competitors, with an average $250,000 for a villa. Bupa already has six care homes in Christchurch and two villages in the city. Moss said Bupa had also in 2013 invested in other existing aged-care facilities, including sites in Riverton, Dunedin and Gore. The three sites were stand-alone care homes were bought from Oceania Care.

Late last month the Overseas Investment Office gave approval to the UK-based Bupa to buy 1.34 hectares of land in Cargill St, Invercargill, for $4.1m to add services to an existing retirement village site, known as Cargill Care Home and Village.

Bupa had built a separate Ascot village in Invercargill, opening that complex of 67 villas and 104 care beds in February.

Bupa had just finished building a 47-unit village in Rangiora, with an 80-bed care home associated with that site to open in August. It also had plans to develop its Timaru rest home site to add dementia care.

In June 2013 Bupa purchased three Oceania facilities - in Taranaki, Dannevirke and Pahiatua - which included two integrated care home and village facilities and one stand-alone care home.

Bupa estimates it is the largest provider of aged care beds in New Zealand and the fourth largest village provider. Of the 57 sites nationwide, 56 provide care homes and 25 include independent retirement villages.

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Other competitors include Ryman Healthcare, a Christchurch-based NZX-listed company. Moss said as a mutually owned company "surpluses" made in New Zealand by Bupa were reinvested in this country.

- The Press

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