Leigh Park - History

History

While known to many as a post-war housing estate, Leigh Park has existed since much earlier. As early as 1750 mention was made of a farm on the site in a will of that year and local historians consider it likely that a farm existed there around 100 years earlier.

Leigh Park Estate may have been formed with the building of Leigh House by the then owner Samuel Harrison some time before 1791. The stables, walled garden and coach house of this somewhat grand residence still survive today as part of Staunton Country Park. The estate emcompassed decorative planting, lakes and follies and was described as “ one of the most beautiful spots in the county” in 1826.

Leigh Park was re-developed as an overspill suburb for those made homeless in Portsmouth by bomb damage which occurred during World War II. The land for the estate was purchased by Portsmouth City Council from the Fitzwygram family in 1944; work started on building in 1947 and the first residents moved in during 1949. The first shops opened in 1952 (in Stone Square) and Park Parade, Greywell Shopping Centre which is Greywell Road (usually referred to as just Park Parade), the main shopping area in Leigh Park, opened in 1955.

The majority of homes in Leigh Park were built by Portsmouth City Council, not Havant Borough Council, despite it being located within Havant's district boundary. Most Leigh Park tenants living in Council housing pay rent to Portsmouth City Council and Hermitage Housing, not to Havant Borough Council; nevertheless, residents still pay council tax to Havant as the provider of local services.

Construction of the estate was not fully completed until the early 1970s, although most of the houses in the area were built by 1960.

Now Hermitage Housing builds most new housing in Leigh Park. Barratt Homes is currently building on the former Procter & Gamble site in the centre of Leigh Park. Leigh Park was one of the largest council estates in Europe, although many of the properties are now privately owned.

In 2004, Leigh Park made the news when a gang stole more than £100,000 from the Nationwide Building Society and a man sleeping on a bench was set on fire, in a separate incident.

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