PLANS to open up the grounds of a large York estate earmarked for housing will be shared during a special tour this month.

Developers PJ Livesey Group have plans for a huge development of new homes at The Retreat, York, subject to a successful planning application.

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

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

The estate was integral to the work of The Retreat, established in 1796 by Quaker William Tuke, who believed mental health was linked with physical activity and created a place where the grounds offered recreation facilities to support the mental health care.

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

The Grade II-listed buildings are to be converted to residential use by heritage specialists The PJ Livesey Group and the majority of the grounds will be opened up to the public.

The proposal is to convert the grade-II listed buildings into new homes, while preserving the exterior, alongside a number of strategically-placed new-build houses, including some that are affordable.

There are proposals for a heritage trail around the perimeter and plans for a peace and tranquillity garden. The Quaker burial ground will be unaffected and continue.

The vast grounds include a tennis court, cricket pitch and bowling green 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 that many people in York are unaware of.

“The task now is to open as much of the grounds as possible for the public to enjoy while retaining private spaces for the new residents."

PJ Livesey Group co-director Georgina Lynch said: “Heslington Road is a special place and we want to respect and celebrate its heritage while also looking at how it can 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 guided tours for the public earlier this year which were quickly booked up.

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

The tours are free but places must be reserved through Eventbrite: