New York glamour comes to Peckham
This south London project along an old coal railway could trump New York’s High Line. By Tim Richardson
Everyone wants a High Line. That has been the case since 2009, when the celebrated park of that name, created on a disused elevated railway, was unveiled in New York’s Chelsea district. The plantings by Piet Oudolf have been hugely praised, likewise the overall design by British landscape architect James Corner. It’s a mustsee for tourists, and not just those interested in gardens and parks, making the High Line the most important piece of new public landscape design to have been created in the past half-century.
Various cities have tried to emulate that success, partly because mayors now see new parks as excellent “legacy projects”. There has been talk of a “Low Line” in Chicago and there is also the proposed Garden Bridge in London (although, in the latter case, it will be mainly the public who pay, as opposed to the private donors who funded the High Line).
Most of these schemes can be viewed as trophy projects created mainly for the greater glory or profit of the politicians and sponsors involved, with the needs of the public second. To my mind, the post-High Line project that has been envisaged most closely in the spirit of the original, and in some ways trumps it, is the Peckham Coal Line in south London. Barely more than a twinkle in the eye at the moment, it will be under half
Manhattan transfer: the High Line in New York, top; an artist’s impression of the Peckham project