'Speldhurst' a new era for Levin

With $150m of planned development including a community centre and 400 new homes, Levin’s new ‘Speldhurst Country Estate’ promises to be much more than a retirement village.

Developer and prominent local Wayne Bishop is not only passionate about providing the best possible lifestyle for Kiwi seniors, he wants the whole of Horowhenua to benefit.

Wayne has partnered exclusively with Gerard on what he calls his “legacy project” – one where the journey offers just as much community benefit as the destination.

Aged care in a rural setting

Situated among green pastures, and flanked by the Tararua ranges to the east, Speldhurst naturally achieves a lush, rural feeling but with the atmosphere and connectedness of a town or suburb.
The homes are independent and individual in style, but do share common traits – mainly homeliness, functionality and spaciousness
Wayne says it’s about reflecting the needs and tastes of retirees, who don’t necessarily want to ‘downsize’:
          “Normally seniors need to sell off all their possessions to move into an aged care facility or retirement village. Speldhurst is different. They can bring everything here, and I think it’s one of the reasons it’s proving popular.”

Range of Gerard profiles, colours and textures

Along with its scale and stunning rural setting, the lifestyle estate is also notable for featuring five Gerard profiles in a range of textures and tones, making it a real-life product showroom.
While it’s early days, the range is already on display, with Gerard Alpine, Corona, Milano, Rockport and Tuffcoat profiles all featuring among the first stages of completed units.
The colour palette is also refreshingly diverse, with light and dark tones, subtle and bold greens and reds, and earthy greys and browns giving Speldhurst the look of a township versus a generic subdivision.

Thinking ‘roof first’ in design

Wayne says the Gerard range reflects the importance of the roof in defining a home’s overall style and character:

          “It’s true that a lot of developers plan houses from the ground, up, and this means the roof can be the last consideration. I’m different. I design from the roof, down, and I think the roof plays an important role in the look of a home. I’ve used a lot of different roof products in the past – concrete, long run - but it became apparent early-on that pressed steel tile would be the way to go.”

Gerard Certified Roofer provides additional value

Another key player is Gerard Certified Roofer Allroof Solutions. The Wellington-based outfit is owned by Chris Burgess, who has a long-standing professional relationship with Wayne.

Chris describes Speldhurst as the ultimate joint venture:

          “Well it’s a huge project which is obviously pleasing. But we’re also working with the upper end of the Gerard range, the premium products – there’s Alpine, there’s Rockport, there’s Milano, there’s textured and satin finishes. Gerard have really let me take the lead on the project but have also provided support, and Wayne’s a great customer.”

Community centre the ‘hub’

If there’s any irony to this story, it is how much life residents will living out of their homes - thanks mainly to a place they call ‘The George’.
Wayne proudly labels it the ‘hub’ of the Speldhurst development, and it’s easy to see why. With a towering clock feature and lateral east-west design it’s both geographic centre and the focal point.
On the inside, there’s a large entertainment and lounging area, a café, a library with hundreds of volumes, PCs for web browsing, a full size billiards table, and a swimming pool – all under one Gerard Corona roof.
Soon it will be joined by a new bowling green and a hair salon, and for everything else, Levin’s only a moment away.

Restoring local pride

Speldhurst marks the regeneration of a site that was formerly home to a hospital known as ‘the Kimberley Centre’.
As a functioning hospital, ‘the Kimberley’ provided essential services for patients and their families, and numerous benefits for the wider community – but it’s 2006 closure had since resulted in 85 derelict buildings, and embarrassment for locals.
Determined for something great to take its place, Wayne’s also celebrating the site's history through the repurposing of old timbers and materials in various places - including the main foyer of The George – and the resurrection of the old hospital chapel.

A community investment

Wayne wants Speldhurst to be a force for community good, and having run the numbers he’s confident about the wider economic benefit of this, and other construction projects.
          “Through my experience and current role I’ve got visibility of which types of investments benefit a community in terms of economic return. Some projects yield $4 or $5 for every dollar spent, which is good, but with building and construction development it’s more like $10. We’ve got local apprentices who previously had to go to Palmerston North or Wellington to get work, and moving forward our residents will rely on local businesses for products and services.”

For a developer with a genuine community outlook, could there be a better legacy?


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