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
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'