The earliest known surviving plan of Balgay House is one of 1729 by James Abercrombie showing an early 18th-century laird's house approached by a formal avenue on the south axis. A square enclosure with trees planted regularly round the edge is shown directly behind the house. A subsidiary avenue led from the forecourt to a garden, orchard, rickyard and offices on the west. Balgay Hill is shown as a large wood to the north. The hill protected the house from the north and at that time there would have been clear views to the Firth of Tay. A later plan of 1801 by Walter Nicol shows early 19th-century improvements including a curved drive sweeping around the south front of the house. Formal beds are shown in front of the house with a small park to the south and east. Balgay Hill is still shown as a wood. Only Balgay Hill and Victoria Park are extant, the rest is now covered by the developments of the Royal Victoria Hospital.
The New Statistical Account, 1845, records that there are 'subterranean dwellings, or places of retreat, ascribed to the ancient Picts, and though it has never been explored, it is believed to be of great extent'. The Old Statistical Account, 1796, notes that 'besides its beautiful form, it is covered with a thriving plantation of trees.'
According to the Ordnance Gazetteer, 1882-5, the Police Commissioners of the burgh acquired the lands of Balgay in 1871 as a place of public recreation. The Gazetteer notes that the lands comprised 60 acres of ground including part of the hill which had been laid out as a cemetery. The entrance approaches from the north, west and south remain as described. The Ordnance Gazetteer also notes that the park 'enjoys the advantage of having been previously beautifully wooded, commands a gorgeous view over all the lower Tay and the Carse of Gowrie, with their periphery of hills and mountains; is encircled with a drive 8 metres wide and intersected with umbrageous drives and walks, looking like well shaded avenues'.
The Necropolis on the western side of Balgay Hill and Balgay Park on the eastern side are divided by a deep rocky gorge which provides a 'natural division' and a means of access from one side of the hill to the other. The 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25”), 1860, when Balgay Hill was still part of the lands of Balgay House, indicates a quarry near the site of the present gorge and a lane passing close by the quarry.
The 2nd edition OS 1:500 (10' to 1 mile), 1872, shows the gorge but no bridge or bandstand. These were both erected in 1877 and are first shown on the OS 1:2500 (25”), 1902, as is Balgay House, now named 'The Royal Victoria Hospital for Incurables'. The Walter Nicol layout of 1801 has been modified and the formal beds on the south front of the house removed.
The 1872 O.S. 10' to 1 mile gives an indication of the formality of the site and shows urns placed on plinths around the lower carriage drive and around the bandstand and drinking fountain in the central area. The urns did not extend into the Necropolis side of the hill, although the carriage drive clearly joined the western and eastern areas as it does today. William McKelvie, employed as a civil engineer by Dundee Council, laid out the western necropolis, having laid out Dundee's eastern necropolis, and taken charge of the city's cemeteries, after the Burial Grounds (Scotland) Act of 1855 gave local authorities powers of regulation.
The Dundee Yearbook for 1892 records:
'In 1870 Balgay Hill was acquired and a portion of it laid out as a cemetery. McKelvie's idea was to preserve all the old trees on the ground, so as to maintain the original beauty of the hill. During his reign, about 65 acres of burial ground – 40 at Eastern and 25 at Balgay – has been laid out, classified and sold, the income being about £55 000. Owing to the careful management of McKelvie, the whole debt of the Dundee Cemeteries is paid in full with interest, and the cemeteries will henceforth become a source of revenue foe the city.'
Inspired by the Parisian garden cemetery layout of Pere La Chaise, the layout of the Necropolis appears to have been simplified over the years, particularly on the northern side. It has also been extended into what was parkland to the west of The Royal Victoria Hospital (formerly Balgay House).
Lochee Park to the north east of Balgay Hill was presented to the City of Dundee in 1890 by Messrs Cox Brothers, and was intended solely as a recreation ground.