Leybourne Grange, Kent

Leybourne Grange was once one of a ring of hospitals built early in the 20th century to house and care for London’s population with their perceived problems of mental health. It was built as a series of some 30 large residential blocks. Employment, educational and social facilities also lay within the 80-acre grounds of a former 18th century country house estate. This in turn had been built on a larger historic parkland, many remnants of which remained in evidence across the hospital’s grounds in tree planting, rides, water features and buildings.

When closed under the Care in the Community Programme, the NHS sought to promote the whole estate as an urban expansion of nearby Maidstone. The planning case for this required demonstration that the harm caused to the significance of its history would be suitably mitigated by the benefits the housing would bring. Our study brought understanding of the historic value of the elements of the park and consolidated its history.

We produced a Constraints and Opportunities Plan to guide a future development masterplan which became the basis of the regime of planning conditions. The promotion case was then tested through an appeal before the Secretary of State, where we gave evidence which allowed the development to proceed once purchased by a national housebuilder.