Group wants to create 'sky garden' on disused railway line over Old Town in Leamington similar to ones in London and New York

Plans are being put together to explore to possibility of creating an urban garden on the disused railway viaducts in the Old Town area of Leamington.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 1:52 pm
Plans are being put together to explore to possibility of creating an urban garden on the disused railway viaducts in the Old Town area of Leamington.

Leamington-based life and health coach Ignaty Dyakov-Richmond has been discussing the possibility of launching the 'Garden in the Sky Project' with residents and councillors showing them how viaducts have been repurposed in New York, Paris and, more recently, in London.

Ignaty's suggestions have been met with a mainly positive response but there are also concerns of misuse of a public suburban garden as well.

Ignaty said: "There are of course valid concerns about risks that the place can attract drug users and sellers, that wild nature will be disturbed - these are all risks to be taken into account and solutions can be found.

Ignaty Dyakov-Richmond

"It can become a key local attraction rival to Jephson Gardens and Victoria Park.

"The Garden in the Sky (a working name) can provide much needed green space and clean air in Old Town - an area where air quality is severely affected by diesel trains running through

"It will also support local residents’ mental health - as we know how beneficial is spending time in nature.

"The Garden in the Sky can bring nature on the doorstep of many people.

"It will be easier for doctors at the Waterside Medical Practice, for example, to do social prescribing, which is key to keeping our people healthy - physically and mentally.

"As a local attraction, it will also help local businesses driving customers to them.

"This, in turn, might create more jobs, much needed in town.

"Schools and community groups will be able to run sessions and mini-projects in the Garden, as they do in the Foundry Woods, for example. Gardening, renewable energy, growing vegetables, rewilding - all of these can be given space.

There are five viaducts starting from the station and going to Victoria Business Park.

The first one, including the top and airspace above, (Bath St) belongs to a local family, four others are owned by a private investor, but the tops and airspace above them is still owned by Network Rail.

At the moment, the tops are overgrown with grass, some shrubs and self-seeded trees which start damaging the structure of the viaducts, so proper surveying is needed.

Also, birds habitually nest there from March till September, so no works must be allowed there in that period.

There has been an ongoing conversation with the Network Rail about using the tops and airspace for the purpose of creating some sort of public space but to date there has been no proper response from them.

There is potential in using this space to place solar panels - comparing to many schemes around the world where solar panels are positioned on the house roofs and bus stops - to generate electricity and thus offset some costs of maintaining the space.

Ignaty has now been introduced to Derrick Knight who has been in talks with the Network rail and District Council for several years about the repurposing of the viaducts for growing organic veg and harnessing energy.

Ignaty said: "Perhaps it is time for everyone to join forces and make the project happen?

"Hopefully, it will become a people’s project with support of relevant organisations.

To express your interest about joining the group on Nextdoor email [email protected]https://nextdoor.co.uk/g/bgxnxz2na/