Camden High Line, the brilliant if fanciful dream of turning just under a mile of abandoned local overhead railway track into a new public park, just got a step closer to being realised.
Local business group Camden Town Unlimited (CTU) have announced that they are working with Network Rail to see if the concept, which borrows heavily from a similar, phenomenally successful project in New York City, can happen here too.
And Kentishtowner readers should feel proud, as your overwhelmingly positive response to our survey on the idea helped swing it.
It was just over a year ago when we stumbled upon a blog post by UCL-based geography software developer Oliver O’Brien, laying out his conceptual designs for various High Line parks along sections of London’s defunct railway infrastructure.
We were so excited about one suggestion in particular – running from the bottom of Kentish Town Road over to Camley Street in King’s Cross – that we splashed a feature all about it on our front cover, back in May 2016.
We also asked readers for feedback online, and understandably the results of our survey were fully in favour of the idea of regenerating this crumbling old rail infrastructure for public use. As some of you pointed out, weighed-up against the spiralling costs of another proposal, the (since shelved) garden bridge, this was an attractive idea on many levels.
When you consider the costs for Network Rail of simply maintaining these rusting old bridges, currently sitting unused and unloved, but full of potential, you can see how the park project rapidly started to become more attractive – and feasible – all round, particularly if it can attract its own sources of funding.
We presented CTU Chief Exec Simon Pitkeathley with the survey results, and though he was initially concerned about the proximity of the Overground line to the proposed public walkway, he began negotiations.
Studio Weave and Architecture 00 won an invited design competition to collaborate on the design visualisations, and have managed to turn Overground access into a feature of the park.
Click on each of the pins on this interactive map (below) to see how nice it all might look if the Camden High Line gets the green light.And now, the big push to turn this popular concept into a proud local reality has kicked off in earnest. “To make this project happen, it’s got to have public support,” says Simon. “It’s got to benefit the local area too, which is what we’ll be working on demonstrating in the future. So if you’re interested in the project, and want to help – please visit camdenhighline.com, join the mailing list, and pledge your support.”
Excitingly, now the feasibility of the park has been proved, its progress may well benefit from its location, potentially forming a direct link between two of London’s most dynamic redevelopment zones.
Access to one end of the walk would be in Camden Gardens, right opposite the rapidly rising Hawley Wharf development, which will soon bring loads of new residents, businesses and shoppers to this totally new canalside quarter.
The other end of the proposed 0.8 mile High Line would touch down in Camley Street, where King’s Cross developer Argent are already about to unveil this brand new, very stylish iron footbridge (pictured), that would neatly complete the pedestrian journey into the heart of Granary Square and the forthcoming retail centre of Coal Drops Yard.
CTU have previous form in promoting suggestions for bringing a High Line to Camden, having run a design competition to find the weirdest and wildest such proposals back in 2014.
With them now firmly behind this realistic option, we may see an elevated garden route to rival – as well as ease pedestrian/bike congestion along – the popular Regent’s Canal towpath route right between the heart of Camden Town and King’s Cross.