PLANS to relocate Woking & Sam Beare Hospices to a single location in Goldsworth Park were signed and sealed by the council on Tuesday night.
Having committed to a £6 million loan in November 2013, Woking chiefs have at last rubber-stamped their pledge, which will see the two charities share a base at Goldsworth House in Denton Way.
The hospices were given council backing after an extensive review into the organisation’s service needs. Leader of Woking Borough Council, John Kingsbury, explained: “I am pleased that the Planning Committee have approved the conversion of Goldsworth House into a 20-bed hospice which will replace the existing 10-bed hospice in Hill View Road.
“The Council was pleased to assist with loan finance for the new hospice which will be an important asset for Woking. The present hospice accommodation has been under great pressure for some time and the new facility will also provide adequate car parking and office accommodation.
“We all look forward to the building work starting very soon.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Saj Hussain, who represents Knaphill & Goldsworth West on Surrey County Council, has described the move to finance the proposal as a defining decision of the current council. “It really is one of the best decisions we’ve made,” he said. “We are really pleased that the plans are coming together.
“The service is something that is close to everyone’s hearts but space at their two existing sites is limited, so the charity needed to move. “Staff do so much for people undergoing end-of-life care, and all I ever hear is praise for their efforts.
“The loan was completely justifiable and we look forward to welcoming the hospices to their new home.”
Woking Hospice will be switching from its current Hill View Road site, while Sam Beare staff and patients will move out of their Weybridge installation to join it. The Sam Beare ‘catchment’ area is quite extensive and includes Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne.
Growth at Sam Beare, which was taken over by Woking Hospice in 2006, had for long been stifled as the charity was unable to secure anything longer than a three-year lease on its current premises. Had Sam Beare not been able to stay at its current Weybridge hospital base, the establishment would have focussed on the provision of community care, daycare and counselling services.
Now, though, the Weybridge facility, which is situated in the High Street, is due to be transformed into a community care centre, and the renovation of Goldsworth House to make a large common base for both hospices is expected to complete some time in 2016.
The hospices’ Chief Executive, Nigel Harding, has promised that regular updates will be issued on the project’s progress – all the way from the design stage to the eventual grand opening.
It was only last October that Harding told reporters his organisation was still awaiting news from NHS Estates, who own the building, to find out if the lease could be extended.
At that worrying time he said: “We are still uncertain as to the future of Sam Beare – the situation is totally out of our hands now.”
But before the end of 2013 it was announced that in-patient beds at the Sam Beare hospice will be moving to a new multi-million pound facility in Woking’s Goldsworth Park, as a result of a loan agreement – said to be worth up to £6 million – made with Woking Borough Council.
The current plan is that Woking Hospice will be vacated at some stage in 2016, after which the premises will be put up for rental. The hospice will be launching a series of roadshows within the area to educate people about the services it provides.