The calm, quiet of Peckham Rye can seem a million miles away from the busy, bustling Queens Road, with the A202 delivering a constant stream of pesky traffic. So we’re 100% behind the Peckham Coal Line project – a design for an elevated urban park built on disused railway sidings and dormant land between Peckham Rye and Queens Road Peckham train stations.
The park would tie in with Peckham Vision’s proposal for a low-line green path alongside the Bussey Building. Together the two green paths would tie into the transformed area around the planned new square in front of Peckham Rye station.
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. At the heart of the concept is the existing Peckham community with its history of successful grassroots activism. And you can help make the Peckham Coal Line happen by contributing to the Spacehive crowdfunding campaign to raise £66,000 in start-up funds.
Starting at Rye Lane on an abandoned rail track, it would run for 900m beside the existing railway line, dropping down into a nature reserve before finishing at Queens Road Peckham station. Two communities in Peckham, currently divided by busy roads and complicated one-way systems, would become seamlessly connected via a calm greenway providing space for both pedestrians and cyclists. The proposal also has wider network potential; by linking two parts of the national cycle network, it would be possible to create an almost continuous green route stretching from Brixton to Rotherhithe with the future potential to reach Canary Wharf.
The ambition is for the park to become a much-loved landmark – a carefully crafted green space with iconic qualities such as the red brick backdrop of industrial-age architecture, and dwell points that offer breathtaking views across the ever-changing London skyline.
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 and community feedback into the design process is a key component of the future plan: ‘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,’ says Woodford.
The Spacehive crowdfunding campaign will finance an official feasibility study (which has the support of Network Rail and Southwark Council) to prepare the way towards the build stage, as well as the programme of public events. Donors will be offered the opportunity to have their names built into the Coal Line on the foundation stones. And, if the Peckham Coal Line can demonstrate enough support, it could also be awarded up to £20,000 from the Mayor of London’s High Street Fund.