Gorleston site for 10-bed Hospice

PLANS for a purpose-built hospice serving the Waveney and Great Yarmouth area have taken a significant step forward.

East Coast Hospice has exchanged contracts with Norfolk County Council for the purchase of a five-acre site for a hospice on Sidegate Road, next to Beacon Park in Gorleston.

There are currently no specialist hospice beds in the area but East Coast Hospice will provide them by building a 10-bed hospice which also includes day care, respite care and teaching facilities.

The hospice will work closely with other palliative care providers to make sure that local people have end of life care and support that is among the best that is available.

A spokesman for East Coast Hospice said: 'Now that the site is secured, the way is open for the charity to make major strides forward in assembling the capital that will be required from national major charitable donors.

'Background work has been under way for some time to identify and open discussions with a number of these potential donors.'

The Great Yarmouth and Waveney area is one of only two in the country that does not currently have a hospice service.

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Patrons and supporters of East Coast Hospice include Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, Baroness P D James, Lady Freud and Lady Dannatt.

But before the charity can make a planning application an achaeological survey has to be carried out on the site.

Archaeologists have discovered a large ring ditch on the site which would have marked the burial place of an important local person in pre-Roman times.

Pottery has been found to help with dating the ring ditch, but early indications are that it could be neolithic. There is the shape of an oval pit visible on the surface of the excavated area and experts will see if there are any remains.

'This is a poignant link through the ages with the plan to build a hospice on the site which in itself will be a place to remember, celebrate and revere the passing of the lives of local people with dignity, love and care,' said the charity spokesman.

The next step will be an application for full planning permission, and once this is granted the site purchase will be completed.

The charity is working closely with local architect Henry Kelf to finalise the layout and floor plans, taking into account the latest guidance, and advances in hospice design.

It will have 10 single bedrooms, each with its own garden, a respite and day-care unit, as well as teaching and meeting facilities. It is hoped the building will express confidence, welcome and care to all who visit and be set in landscaped surroundings.

The charity relies heavily on its shops in the area to raise funds.

A shop in Bevan Street, Lowestoft, has been open a year and earlier this year a second shop was opened in the town. There are also shops in High Street, Gorleston, and King Street, Great Yarmouth, with a new outlet at Market Row opening shortly.