A sealed off park near Hanger Lane that contains the historic and derelict Twyford Abbey could be opened up to the public under plans currently being consulted on.
There’s been a manor on the site for around 1,000 years, but in the early 19th-century, the site was purchased by Thomas Willan, a stagecoach proprietor who tasked the architect William Atkinson to re-model the house as a gothic-style mansion. Consistent with the spirit of the time, Willan gave his house a romantic pseudomonastic name, calling it Twyford Abbey, although it had never been a religious site in the past.
The site was sold for use as a care home in the early 20th-century, but was sold again in 1988 and has stood empty ever since, slowly falling into decay. It’s currently listed by Historic England as being in “immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric”
The manor house stands in a large plot of land a mix of woods and open grasslands that are sealed off and not open to the public. There had been plans to turn the site into a school in 2017, and although planning permission was granted, those have been cancelled.
The site has now been acquired by the housing association Clarion Housing Group, and they plan to restore the manor house and convert it into flats, while also building modern flats on some of the parks, and then open the rest of the park as a public space.
The proposed development area is about the same as the previously approved school, so about half of the park would be built on. In an ideal scenario, the loss of parkland would be a bad thing, but this is a sealed-off area of land that the public has no access to, so opening up half the park to the public would be seen to be better than having none of it open.
Under the plans, in addition to the new housing blocks around the estate, at the heart of the site, the old manor house, and its original walled garden will be restored.
In terms of public access, in addition to opening up the southern side of the estate to create a 1.2 acre park, the restored walled garden will be open to the public, with some degree of managed access during the daytime. The developer is also looking at if it could offer tours or an open house type day to visit the restored manor house.
In total 325 homes would be built, down on earlier plans for 365 after concerns about the height of the new blocks were raised in previous meetings. A third (35%) of the new housing would be qualified as Affordable, split roughly 60% London Affordable Rent (no more than 80% of local rental rates) and 40% Shared Ownership.
The developer aims to submit a planning application in May, with a decision in the summer.
The consultation website is here.