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Attempt to list Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone as historic parkland to save it from homes plan


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A councillor has applied to have Maidstone's Invicta Park Barracks listed as an historic parkland in a bid to save it from the developers.

The borough council has laid out plans to redevelop the site, set to be closed once the Army quits the County Town in 2029, with 1,300 new homes.

Cllr Tony Harwood hopes to protect the land

But Cllr Tony Harwood (Lib Dem) has applied to Historic England for the site to be listed as an 'historic park and garden.'

If successful, the move would give added protections against the redevelopment, set out in Maidstone's Local Plan Review.

He is basing his arguments on the fact that the barracks include Park House, a Grade II* listed mansion, which for more than 100 years was the country seat of the Lushington family.

Built in 1792, it came with extensive gardens, parkland and tenant farms covering 232 acres.

Sales particulars for the house dating from 1828 say the mansion was surrounded by "pleasure grounds, tastefully disposed in shrubberies, lawns and walks,” while nearby there was an orchard and “productive kitchen garden.”

The out-lying properties "included hop fields, orchards, woods and meadows.”

Park House in Invicta Barracks today
Park House in Invicta Barracks today
Park House pictured in 1975 by Jo Waller
Park House pictured in 1975 by Jo Waller

Edmund Law Lushington (1811-1893), and his brother Henry were both undergraduates together at Cambridge with the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson and the three were close friends.

Edmund married Tennyson’s sister Cecilia, and Tennyson became a frequent visitor to Park House, which he describes in the prologue to “The Princess.”

Edmund and Cecilia's marriage was the inspiration for Tennyson's “In Memoriam”, and the grounds inspired his poem “The Brook.”

Cllr Harwood said: "This is an historic and culturally significant parkland which the Ministry of Defence and Maidstone Borough Council are now aspiring to asset strip for high density housing.

"Their plan is clearly unsustainable and inappropriate from historic, cultural, landscape and biodiversity perspectives."

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The estate was acquired by the Army in 1936, and was first a hutted encampment known as Invicta Lines, until today’s barracks was built in 1965.

Park House is currently the officers’ mess.

The estate had historically been owned by Henry VII and known as "Le Park."

Historic England said the application for listing, reference number 1479761, would be considered by the Designation South Team, and an answer given "in due course."

Maidstone council has been asked for comment.

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