Borough, Bankside and Bermondsey
Learning from the success of the High Line in New York, we bring you the Low Line in Southwark - a new walking route alongside the railway viaduct which connects neighbourhoods and is opening up a wide variety of opportunities.
The low line concept was first conceived by Bankside resident David Stephens, who sketched a route adjacent to the railway arches through historic Bankside to connect London Bridge with Waterloo stations. This idea has captured imaginations and gained a range of friends and supporters, including the owners of the viaduct, Network Rail. The ambition of the project has grown over time and we've recently backed the concept in its New Southwark Plan (PDF, 1.7mb), with protection for a new pedestrian route alongside the viaduct throughout Southwark.
See policy DM45 on page 73 of the New Southwark Plan (PDF, 1.7mb) to find out more.
The low line is a jigsaw, which will be carefully put together over time with careful liaison with the owners of land and buildings adjacent to the viaduct and the operators in the arches to open up new routes. Projects may include landscaping, lighting, brick cleaning, artwork, signage, and events to celebrate the history and potential of the amazing Victorian railway arches.
The first three sections of Low Line have now opened in Southwark. At Spare Street in the Elephant and Castle, a landscaped walkway has been opened alongside a new development with 5 derelict arches refurbished to create new artists workshops (operated by local not-for-profit Hotel Elephant).
In Bankside, the Union Yard Arches and Flat Iron Square sections of Low Line both opened in 2016, with new walkways opened through previously gated off areas, with new paving, lighting and artworks. Both projects have also created homes for a range of independent and creative occupiers, including the Union Theatre, Spanish Theatre Company, O'Meara and The Africa Centre.
Watch this space
Partners across Southwark are investigating the potential to create new sections of Low Line. Feasibility is being carried out on a number of new projects, which are planned to open over the next five years including:
- a new route through the arches at Borough Market called Dirty Lane (visit the council’s planning portal and insert planning application reference 15/AP/3066)
- the opening of 70,000 sq ft of arches, as part of the redevelopment of London Bridge station, which includes affordable units for local independents and a new home for Southwark Playhouse
- the refurbishment of arches and public realm along Holyrood Street with Team London Bridge
- operator Doodle Bar is opening a new leisure offer in a series of arches adjacent to Maltby Street market - they're working closely with neighbouring landowners
- the refurbishment of a long stretch of arches adjacent to the Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey
- the future improvement of the walkway alongside the Borough Triangle development at the Elephant and Castle
- the refurbishment of a series of arches with a new north south route as part of the Manor Place depot redevelopment (visit the council’s planning portal and insert planning application reference 15/AP/1062)
The Low Line is only possible by close and careful liaison between so many partners. The original promoters of the idea, Better Bankside, are helping David Stephens to bring the low line to life in Bankside.
In Elephant and Castle, the Walworth Society is working with the community to open up new sections, and Team London Bridge is leading the charge out toward Bermondsey. Further south, a close relative of the low line called the Coal Line is being delivered by the community through an innovative crowdfunding campaign.
If you're interested in hearing more about the project or have a suggestion to make a new Low Line project happen in your area, get in touch with Programme manager Dan Taylor on 020 7525 5450.
Page last updated: 25 July 2023