London’s answer to New York’s High Line

A 900m-long route along disused coal sidings will create a new urban park and frame views across London
The Peckham Coal Line in London, UK, has been billed as London’s answer to New York’s High Line linear park. It will connect the communities of Queens Road and Rye Lane in Peckham with a new urban park that will provide space for both pedestrians and cyclists, changing the lives of residents and businesses by bridging busy roads and creating a more direct link between two high streets.

The 900m-long route will run on disused coal sidings alongside the railway line through the heart of Peckham, framing views across London and passing through Victorian brick viaducts before dropping down to a little-used nature reserve. The ambition is for the park to become a much-loved landmark – a carefully crafted green space that will offer breath-taking views across the ever-changing London skyline. As well as providing a beautiful setting, the improvements will bridge the gap in a wider network of cycling and walking greenways between Brixton and the Thames.

The Peckham Coal Line Spacehive crowdfunding campaign has received a £10,000 pledge from the Mayor of London’s High Street Fund. This is a significant contribution towards raising £66,000 in start-up funds to transform disused railway sidings into a new 1km stretch of green space. It is the first time the Mayor of a major European city has used a civic crowdfunding website to directly pledge money to community projects.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The Peckham Coal Line project is a fantastic example of how we can harness the enthusiasm of civic crowdfunding and work more directly with Londoners to improve their neighbourhoods. I urge you to go online and help your local project reach their total.”

The Mayor’s backing comes after 300 other supporters including local residents and businesses have contributed to the project including the popular Peckham MultiPlex cinema.

Peckham Coal Line designer, Nick Woodford, said: “The Coal Line is a way of connecting people, whether that be traders benefitting from greater numbers of visitors, or creating and building on networks of local community groups. Peckham has a heritage of grassroots activism, in influencing planning projects and turning disused spaces into cultural destinations. We see the Coal Line as part of this tradition. What we want to do is connect communities and neighbourhoods. It’s essential that this project gets as much input and as many ideas from local residents as it can.”

What began as a university project for Nick Woodford, a mature architecture student at Central Saint Martins, has captured the imagination of locals and Londoners alike. Since December 2014, when Woodford shared the designs on social media sites, he has built a small team of volunteer professionals to help create a long-term strategy. Over 500 people attended a series of public walks of the proposed route in May as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival. Community involvement and feedback into the design process is a key component of the future plan.