We report on an improved quality of thick HVPE-GaN grown on MOCVD-GaN ‘template’ layers compared to the material grown directly on sapphire. The film-substrate interface revealed by cathodoluminescence measurements shows an absence of highly doped columnar structures which are typically present in thick HVPE-GaN films grown directly on sapphire. This improved structure results in a reduction of two orders of magnitude of the free carrier concentration from Hall measurements. It was found that the structure, morphology, electrical and optical properties of homoepitaxial thick GaN layers grown by HVPE were strongly influenced by the properties of the MOCVD-GaN ‘template’. Additionally the effect of Si doping of the GaN buffer layers on the HVPEGaN properties was analysed.