New plans for the Camden Highline — an elevated park along 1.2km of disused railway in north London — have been submitted.
The proposed route of the park-in-the-sky runs from Camden Town to King's Cross along a disused railway viaduct, once part of the North London Railway and disused since the 1980s, with the path running eight metres above ground level.
Sound familiar? The New York High Line is a similar idea — transforming an elevated rail line formerly used for transporting meat and dairy produce into a park in 2009. Urban design and architect company James Corner Field Operations, which was responsible for the New York High Line, have also worked on this London masterplan, with Camden-based vPPR Architects.
The aim is to create walking routes between local neighbourhoods, as well as a new visitor attraction for London (a figure of two million visitors per year has been thrown around), to boost eco-friendly travel and biodiversity in the capital.
Where is the Camden Highline?
Eventually, it's hoped it'll run the full length from Camden Gardens (Camden Town) to York Way (King's Cross). But so far, a planning application has only been submitted for the section between Camden Gardens and Royal College Street.
This will be followed by a second section from Royal College Street to Camley Street, and a third from Camley Street to York Way.
Eventually, the Highline will be accessible via entrances on Camden High Street, Royal College Street, Camley Street and York Way. Design plans include step-free access at all four entrances.
There's an interactive map of the full Camden Highline route available online.
What's on the Camden Highline?
Gardens, seating areas, cafes, areas for children to play, and a woodland balcony overlooking Camden Town are the main features. Focus is very much on ecology, with designs inspired by woodlands, meadows and hedgerows — and hopes that the Highline will provide new habitats for various species of birds, insects and animals, in an area of London which currently isn't known for being all that green.
There will also be light and art installations on stairways and under bridges. Where possible, materials already in use on the viaduct will be reused in constructing the new park.
At the moment, plenty remains undecided, including whether the Highline will be open to cyclists and dogs, and whether it will be open 24 hours.
When will the Camden Highline open?
Don't get too excited just yet — as of May 2022, the Camden Highline has been submitted for planning approval, which can be a long process. It's hoped that the final route will open, in phases, from 2025.
How will the Camden Highline be paid for?
"Public and private funding, and trading income once the Highline is built" is the official response to where the money for the project will come from.
The Camden Highline is a registered charity, responsible for delivering and operating the park. At the moment, it is looking for both financial donations, and for people to donate their time to getting the project off the ground.