ondon is one step closer to its own version of New York’s famous highline after final designs for the £50million ‘park in the sky’ were submitted to planners in Camden.
The ambitious new project aims to transform a redundant three-quarter mile stretch of railway in Camden and Kings Cross into an elevated linear park that is expected to attract 1.5 million people a year.
Its design is led by James Corner Field Operations, the practice behind the original highline in Manhattan, an urban greening project so successful it attracts five million visitors a year and has been accused of being a catalyst for rapid gentrification. of the region.
Camden-based practice vPPR architects are also part of the design team for the project which will be built in three phases. If approved, it will include gardens and walkways eight meters above the ground, as well as lounge areas, cafes and spaces for arts and events.
Passing alongside a working Overground line, the route will eventually run between Camden Gardens in Camden Town in the west and York Way near King’s Cross station in the east and will have four entrances to the street level.
Construction is set to take place in three phases, with planning permission only so far submitted for the first £14million stretch from Camden Gardens to Royal College Street. The application, which has been made to Camden Council, is the latest milestone for charity Camden Highline which launched a £35million fundraising campaign last year.
The charity has so far raised £1m to pay for feasibility and design work, but it hopes planning permission will attract more funding with a mix of public sector and trust grants , donations from high net worth individuals and corporate sponsorship, which could include naming rights. The project benefits from the support of Network Rail, owner of the land.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also backed the new walking route. He said: “The Camden Highline embodies London’s creativity and ingenuity and it’s the kind of thinking we need as we move towards a green future. Londoners should be encouraged to spend more time outdoors and in nature, in cleaner and greener spaces for their health and wellbeing.
According to the planning request, part of the highline’s running costs will be covered by renting the space for private events and includes plans for a 70-seat grandstand for smaller shows and a second space with a capacity of 84 people, both located near the Royal College Street section.
Under the proposals, the highline would occasionally close for private events, although the charity said this would happen a maximum of ten times a year.
The first phase of the new road runs alongside the existing housing estates, Maiden Lane and Agar Grove, built when the entire Highline was an active railway line. Agar Grove is currently undergoing a major £97million redevelopment by Camden Council in the UK’s ‘largest Passivhaus project’.
The first entrance to Camden Gardens is also next to Hawley’s Wharf, the canalside development project owned by LabTech, the investment firm of billionaire entrepreneur Teddy Sagi. Last week, Sagi reportedly put Camden Market, which he also owns, on the market for £1.5billion.
When complete, the east end of the Highline will end at the doorstep of the Tile Yards development, a music and culture-focused residential and commercial development on a former industrial site.
Camden Highline CEO Simon Pitkeathley said: “The design team led by Field Operations exceeded our already high expectations and there is no doubt that The Camden Highline will be a magnificent park in the sky. Now the real challenge is to raise the funds to build it so that we can all benefit from it. This will involve a collaborative effort from various funding sources, and we’d love to talk to anyone who thinks they can help. »
Senior Designer James Corner of Field Operations added: “We are extremely pleased to share this design vision for Camden Highline. The design aims to celebrate and amplify the unique characteristics of the railway viaduct, dramatizing movement and discovery, in a sequence of woods, meadows and gardens.
The planning application is currently under review by Camden Council.