Walking in the air: Castlefield's own High Line Park

A garden in the sky is Manchester's answer to New York high living

Anything New York can do, Manchester can do better. Or so say the residents of Castlefield who are campaigning to create their own High Line Park on the top of one of the city's derelict Victorian railway viaducts.

Members of the Castlefield Forum hope the Hanging Gardens will rival Manhattan's lauded elevated park, which was completed last year amid huge claims for the economic and social benefits it has brought to the area.

The High Line, on West 23rd Street, began in 1999, when Manhattanites Joshua David and Robert Hammond envisaged the mile-long disused aerial line being brought back to life as a green public space. It took 10 years and $112m (£70m) for their vision to be realised – the first phase was opened in June 2009 – but since then it is estimated to have attracted $2bn of investment to the area below it, which includes inner-city public housing. It attracts four million visitors a year.

Coincidentally, the first time a park was considered to revitalise Castlefield viaduct, the grand castellated, 1,000ft, eight-span marvel of Victorian engineering, was at the end of the 1990s. But it is only now, with the enthusiasm of local people backed by the vision of architects, that the project is gaining momentum. The current designs include plans for shrubs and plants, walkways, a café, allotments and open plazas, which perhaps optimistically in Manchester are designated as sunbathing areas.

Darrell Wilson of architectural firm BDP, who has worked with the forum on the project, said: "It would be amazing if the vision could be realised. It will be much more than a walkway but a multifaceted, community-owned space that creates the opportunity for residents to socialise, grow their own produce, even have barbecues in the summer – all within a beautiful and naturally designed landscape. A special place that leaves another memorable and lasting imprint on the rich cultural heritage of Castlefield."

As the terminus of the Bridgewater Canal, one of great waterways of the Industrial Revolution, the area is already rich in cultural heritage, but campaigners believe their Hanging Gardens can only add to its attractions. "Manchester suffers from a lack of public space," said Ali McGowan, a forum committee member. "Reusing the viaduct, which is under 'managed decline', will not only give us that space but will also stop the further deterioration of a stunning historical structure. It is awe-inspiring to look up at it, and to see it used in this way would not only benefit residents but would also be a great tourist attraction."

The Castlefield project will have to compete for the honour of being Britain's first high-line park with a scheme in east London to transform the Braithwaite viaduct as part of the redevelopment of the Bishopsgate goods yards. The east London scheme has still to draw up designs.

But, even in Manchester, there is still a long way to go. The current owners of the viaduct, British Railways Board, has estimated that it costs £30m a year just to keep the viaduct from falling down and even if, as has been rumoured, it was willing to sell it for £1, the forum will need all their fundraising skills to see their vision materialise. But Mr McGowan is undaunted. "We know the hard work has still to be done. It may take 10 years, but Castlefield will have its Hanging Gardens."

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Voices
A recent rise in net migration has been considered bad news for the Government
voicesYet when we talk about it, the national media goes into a frenzy, says Nigel Farage
Life and Style
Miracle muffin: chemicals can keep a muffin looking good at least a month after it was bought
food + drinkThe alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
people
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic