& Claybury Park – A Brief Recent History
Hospital occupied 236 acres on a ridge close to the northern boundary of
Redbridge. The hospital buildings completed in 1893 and designed by G.T.
Hine, were built in the grounds of Claybury Hall, a mansion built in 1785.
The hospital was planned on an echelon style clustered around a series of
courtyards and set in Humphrey Repton designed parkland. The grounds
included remnants of a valuable ancient woodland and orchard.
With the Care in the
Community Programme and the inevitable decline in patient numbers from its
peak of 4,000 patients, Claybury faced a difficult future. The NHS pressed
for extensive demolition and maximum new build, the Local Planning Authority
and English Heritage for maximum retention of the historic buildings and
restriction of new build to the existing footprint, in accordance with the
Green Belt allocation in the Unitary Development Plan.
A 60 day Public Inquiry was
held in 1997 and the Council/English Heritage position was accepted.
Meanwhile, the buildings continued to fall into extensive disrepair, having
suffered from years of neglect.
Following the Secretary of
State’s decision, the Council entered into discussions with Crest Nicholson
PLC who took up the opportunity to create a new community, focussed upon
restoration of much of the former hospital buildings but also providing over
400 new homes. The initial task was to produce a Master Plan for the site
that involved retention of the echelon buildings and clearance of the ‘inner
core’ service buildings.
A boulevard was created
within this ‘inner core’ by replacing the service buildings with
three-storey houses and planting of mature trees, and the creation of new
squares. The boulevard terminated at a notable landmark (the water tower)
and a new piazza in front of the former recreation hall and chapel. Other
key landmarks were retained so as to punctuate vistas and views across open
parkland and internal squares.
The principal access into the
site was taken along its original alignment to the head of the boulevard,
resurfaced with bound gravel and traditional lighting standards installed.
The open space was defined
into a number of categories beyond the space immediately around the
buildings, including the former sports field, which was proposed as amenity
space to be used in association with the converted buildings: the Repton
parkland, open grassland and ancient woodland.
Claybury Hall was proposed
for thorough restoration and extension and further enabling development in a
series of five pockets of development dispersed around the former grounds.
They were deliberately designed to contrast with the strong focus of
buildings around the central boulevard area in order to accentuate their
presence in the neighbourhood.
The Master Plan was
accompanied by detailed drawings of the early phases of both conversion and
new build. A lengthy and detailed Section 106 undertaking was negotiated
between the Council and Crest Homes.
The Repton Park development
has subsequently been carried out. The ward blocks and Claybury Hall have
been converted to residential use. A total of 400+ units have been provided
and constitutes a valuable contribution to meeting local housing allocation
as well as meeting key historic building and Green Belt policy objectives
The worst of 100 years of
institutional ‘alterations’ has been removed and new viable uses have been
found for the ‘collegiate’ buildings of the water tower, recreation hall and
chapel without losing their key historic qualities. The chapel has been
converted to a swimming pool and the recreation hall to a gym open to public
Repton Park, a gated village
community, is a very special place to live. The amenity space around the
historic buildings is of exceptional quality and complements the high
quality restoration of the former hospital buildings
Images of Repton Park after the hospital was
converted to residential homes by Crest Nicholson
A key aspect of the
development at Repton Park is Claybury Park, with its 104 acres - which is
adjacent to Repton Park.
Park has now been restored and adopted by the London Borough of Redbridge
and is thought to be the largest new public park in London for a century,
incorporating cycleways, paths and a wide variety of spaces from formal
parkland to ancient woodland, grassland and wetlands.
In December, 2005 the
historic and architectural uniqueness of Repton & Claybury Park was
recognised, by the London Borough of Redbridge, when both locations were
designated approved Conservation Areas.
by Tom Sharpe
Park Residents Association