Planning approval has been granted for Camden Highline, a project to transform a section of disused railway into a new elevated urban park for London.
Similar to the High Line in New York, US, the new green space will run for 1.2km, connecting Camden Town with the King’s Cross and St Pancras area – an important transport hub for the capital.
The elevated public walkway is forecast to bring new local green space for 20,000 people, along with health and wellbeing benefits worth £10.9m over the project’s lifetime where people are expected to walk, run, exercise and socialise.
It is hoped that, in total, it could attract about 2.5m people a year.
The project is set to be built in three sections, beginning at Camden Gardens to Royal College Street, then east to Camley Street, and finally to York Way.
The project’s lead architects are James Corner Field Operations – one of the designers of the New York High Line – who are working in partnership with local architecture practice vPPR.
The project is set to increase the ecological value and biodiversity of Camden. The planting, headed up by renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf in close consultation with London Wildlife Trust, is inspired by woodlands, productive gardens, meadows and ancient British hedgerows, and will take visitors through a series of distinct ecosystems and experiences.
Each section of the Highline will differ in character, in direct response to the different neighbourhoods, contexts, and conditions through which it travels, to give a true reflection of Camden’s unique identity.
Interactive design features, including a children’s play zone, volunteer-run allotments and an outdoor classroom, will come together to create a sense of urban exploration and discovery, while balconies will connect the park to the urban street life below.
An architectural screen, programmed with nesting sites, greenery and trainspotting windows, will run the length of the park, separating it from the active rail line, while offering a coherent design language to the overall route.
The planning permission, from Camden Council, covers the first stage of the project.
Camden Highline charity, which is driving the project – together with community engagement specialists Street Space – is now looking for donors to support with the projected £14m cost of the first section of the project and get construction work underway.
The community initiative, which started out as a crowdfunding campaign, is the culmination of public engagement that has taken place over the last four years.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Camden Highline has captured local imaginations. It urges us to broaden the horizons of what’s possible within our cities and is exactly the sort of innovative, environmentally sustainable, and community-driven project which will continue to benefit and inspire generations to come.
“This vision will also bring huge enterprise opportunities to local small business, helping to build a better, greener, and more prosperous London for everyone. I look forward to following the Camden Highline on its journey and to walking in London’s own park in the sky.”