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‘High Line’ park bid for abandoned railway track running from Camden Town to King’s Cross

Search begins for financial backers to turn eye-catching designs into a reality

25 May, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Designs for how the ‘Camden High Line’ could look have been released

A LONG-abandoned stretch of railway that snakes through the heart of Camden Town could become an above-ground park.

The Camden Town Unlimited business group this week released images of what they call the “Camden High Line” – a project to transform unused track space into a kilometre-long pedestrian route that could take people from Hawley Wharf in Camden Lock through to King’s Cross. The designs show various entry points, including Camden Road station, Hawley Wharf, Camley Street and Barker Drive.

Designed to have a garden feel with spaces to relax and eye-catching views, Camden Town Unlimited chief executive Simon Pitkeathley and project designer Adam Richards have been working on the scheme for a year – and have the backing of Network Rail, who are currently surveying the disused tracks that run alongside the Overground route to gauge how the project can become a reality.

Mr Pitkeathley said: “The line has long been mothballed and was highlighted by a piece of research by a UCL geography lecturer, Tim O’Brien. As part of a research paper, he looked at possible high line locations through London and drew up a list of the 10 best. The Camden one came out top as the most likely to work.” The Camden High Line takes its inspiration from a similar project that has been successful in New York. The city converted a raised train route, opened in the 1930s but closed in 1980, into a publicly owned park. It opened to visitors in 2006 and a charity, the friends of the High Line, raised around 90 per cent of its maintenance costs.

Mr Richards added: “It would relieve the pressure of walkers and cyclists on the canal towpath, improve air quality, take traffic off the road, and provide an alternative route between two of the biggest redeveloped areas in the capital.”

The scheme now needs financial backers – but the final figure needed to turn the vision into reality has not yet been costed. Mr Pitkeathley added: “We have no ball park figure on how much it could cost, nor a time scale on how long it would take to make.” A mix of private sponsorship, donations, fundraising and using Section 106 money from developers could pay for the project, he said.

Adam Richards and Simon Pitkeathley at Camden Road station

Mr Pitkeathley said: “There will be a funding campaign and we are working with several key stakeholders. Camden Council have been very supportive, Network Rail own the line and are keen and have been very helpful with technical issues. Once surveying is completed and issues such as safety, cabling and signal boxes are considered, we will start raising funds to make it happen.”

He added that the project has the support of property developers Argent, who have been behind the King’s Cross Railway Lands redevelopment, and said the Camden High Line would not fall foul of the funding problems experienced by the Garden Bridge, proposed to run over the Thames. “It won’t be closed for private events to raise money to keep it maintained,” added Mr Pitkeathley. “We want to get people in the neighbourhood involved and support for plans. It is easy enough to do and adventurous. It would be both beautiful and a practical use of space.”

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