Tour Reveals Plans to Open Ground at The Retreat, York

PLANS to unlock the grounds of a large York estate destined for housing will be shared on a special tour this month.

Developers PJ Livesey Group have plans for a massive new residential development in The Retreat, York, pending a successful planning application.

The history of the sprawling Heslington Road estate and how the land has changed and developed over the years will be explored during an open day on Saturday 25 June.

Landscape architects Randall Thorp will discuss how the 13-acre estate has changed from turnip field to formal garden and orchard and what has affected the changes.

The estate was integral to the work of The Retreat, founded in 1796 by Quaker William Tuke, who believed mental health was linked to physical activity, creating a place where the grounds provided recreational facilities to support mental health.

In-patient services offered by The Retreat closed in 2018 and new centers of excellence for outpatients have been established at other locations adjacent to Heslington Road.

The Grade II listed buildings will be converted to residential use by heritage specialists The PJ Livesey Group and most of the site will be opened to the public.

The proposal is to convert the listed buildings into new homes, preserving the exterior, in addition to a number of strategically placed new-build homes, including some that are affordable.

There are proposals for a heritage trail around the perimeter and plans for a peace garden. The Quaker cemetery will remain untouched and continue.

Within the extensive grounds you will find a tennis court, cricket ground and bowling alley which are rarely used.

Randall Thorp is working with PJ Livesey on the proposals, and partner Dick Longdin said: “The Heslington Road estate is a landscape treasure and because of its previous sensitive use, one of which many people in York are unaware.

“The task now is to open up as much of the site as possible to the public, while preserving the private spaces for the new residents.”

Georgina Lynch, co-director of the PJ Livesey Group, said: “Heslington Road is a special place and we want to respect and celebrate its heritage, while also looking at how it could be opened and maintained for wider use.”

Three ‘Talk and Tour’ events will take place on Saturday, June 25, starting at 10am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

These follow the success of public tours earlier this year, which quickly sold out.

Manchester-based PJ Livesey has promised an extensive public consultation with the community, heritage organizations and local advocacy groups on how best to give the estate and its historic buildings a new future.

The tours are free, but seats must be reserved through Eventbrite:

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