Chinese entrepreneur snaps up former Royal Papworth Hospital site with promise of 1,000 jobs and £265m investment to create five-star ‘wellness village’

09th August 2019

Chinese entrepreneur Grace Bian has snapped up the former Royal Papworth Hospital site in Cambridgeshire to turn it into a £256 million health and wellness complex creating up to 1,000 jobs.

The hospital trust has agreed the sale to Ms Bian’s Chinese backed investment company Global Healthcare Real Estate.

The 13-acre site will be home to a country club, a floating spa and restaurant on a lake, an art centre and health complex.

Additionally there will 300 convalescence beds, 384 apartments and 90 villas set in landscaped gardens.

And Ms Bian said she hoped very much it would be part of the community and has promised ways to integrate it with Papworth Everard.

Ms Bian said: “We want to engage with the community and to use local service providers whenever possible.

“”We will preserve the healthcare use of the site with state-of-the-art medical facilities and a spa for the residents of the village which will also be available to the wider community.”

She said the £265million investment would have a positive effect on the value of the whole area.

Ms Bian said it would complement the Cambridge Biocampus, offering a world-class wellness experience for a mixed aged group.

The project team includes Peter Moore OBE, who brought Center Parcs to the UK, led Alton Towers and is working on a £200million adventure resort in Wales.

The design of the ‘second life’ Papworth Wellness village was created by Ms Bian herself and is being led by Heinz Schletterer, CEO and founder of Schletterer who have completed over 2000 projects worldwide for clients such as the Hilton, Sheraton and Four Seasons.

Ms Bian said: “Royal Papworth was a world leader in heart and lung transplants and we are proud to have won the bid to develop such a historic site.

“This is a very exciting and important opportunity for us as it will form the first of a number of health and wellness villages across the UK.”

Ms Bian said: “We will have a mix of residents from all ages and backgrounds. This is not about elderly care; this is about offering people from different backgrounds a ‘second life’.”

She said the new Papworth Wellness Village would offer a mix of five-star facilities with the focus on wellness, health and quality of life.

“We will offer our members an experience where people from all over the world can enjoy their second life in comfort and style and forge new friends and relationship,” she said.

“It will be a cosmopolitan village but one that will be very much at the heart of the local community. We estimate that it will create up to 1000 jobs and we will be recruiting and training locally for a wide range of roles such as wellness, care, spa, restaurant, concierge and ground maintenance staff.”

Her spokesmen said that Ms Bian was an inventor with 73 intellectual property rights in her name; her focus was on the potential of smart cities to transform society, as well as investing in healthcare projects such as mobile hospitals and smart health villages.

She jointly owns a research and development centre with the China Academy of Sciences, and is an economic advisor for the Chinese government.

A Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “The trust can confirm that the site is being sold to Global Healthcare Real Estate Ltd and we look forward to seeing the plans as they develop.

“We welcome the fact that the historic site is retaining its connections with healthcare through a health and wellness village.”

Papworth Trust officials say the sale remains subject to contract and remains their property until completion.