Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind a project to turn disused railway tracks in Peckham into an “elevated urban park” to rival New York’s High Line.
The London mayor said he will invest £285,000 in 20 local community projects across 15 boroughs as part of his £9m High Street Fund set up last year to help improve town centres across the capital.
These include £10,000 funding towards the Peckham Coal Line, which would see the abandoned Rickett coal sidings, that run between Queens Road Peckham and Peckham Rye train stations, converted into a one km-long park.
The proposals are the brainchild of Nick Woodford, a mature architecture student at Central Saint Martins.
It has been compared with New York’s High Line, an old freight track that was turned into a public park in 2009. Other similar projects include Paris’s Promenade plantée, a disused 19th-century Vincennes railway viaduct that was turned into a park in 1993.
The mayor’s funding will help pay for a full feasibility study examining how the Coal Line will be built, any planning issues involved and build costs, as well as engaging residents, businesses schools and commuters in further workshops.
If the plans go ahead, stairs and a lift would be built at Peckham Rye overground station to provide public access up to the sidings. The route would pass through Victorian brick viaducts before dropping down to a little-used nature reserve.
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,” Woodford he added.