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By Frankie Webb
Stripped of its name and some of the tired old buildings which scar the 100 acre landscape, the Kimberley Centre is to undergo a metamorphosis.
From the ashes will rise Speldhurst Country Estate. Not a retirement village, but a lifestyle village.
It is a matter of weeks since new owner Wayne Bishop took control and already there are aubtle changes.
Wayne is a visionary, he is community minded and a realist. “I have a 25 year plan but I'm fully aware there's red tape to cut if is to happen.”
Parts of the old Centre, the country’s last large intellectually disabled institution, appear to be in suspended animation from the time its closure was announced in 2001.
The community could have, should have access to all this, it shouldn’t be lying idle when there’s such a need for it,” Wayne said citing the hyrdro pool complete with chair lift as an example.
“It could have provided therapy to hundreds of Horowhenua patients, I want to get it going and open it to the community.”
He is eager to make things happen sooner rather than later.
A huge hall features a stage, changing facilities complete with showers, a commercial kitchen and more.
"This needs aesthetic work, it's a sound building with enormous possibilities," Wayne said. "I can see the local performing arts groups making use of it."
Wayne, a builder by profession, knows which buildings can be resurrected.
"Most of the air force buildings are beyond repair but I intend to recycle anything that can be," he said.
There are a few staff houses remaining on the site. "I'm selling them for removal, the smaller one for $3000, there's a six bedroom one for $5000," he said. "I want someone who could never have afforded a house to get them."
A building sports new paint and a lack of overgrowth. It is emerging as a secure lock up facility offering almost 100 storage bays with truck access.
Before Christmas, all going to plan, two show homes should stand near the Centre's main entrance. "There were people living here in its heyday," Wayne said.
"The infrastructure needs work but essentially it's there." He sees three bedroomed homes in a gated community. "Some people would be overwhelmed by this project," he admits. "I'm not, I want to really make something for the entire community.
"I want to leave a legacy," he said.

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Bright new era for Kimberley

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August 1, 2014

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