The Herne Hill Highline

It all started on the train looking out at a series of dreary flat commercial rooftops that run alongside a stretch of railway in South London. It was a green roof opportunity waiting to happen. Or thats how it seemed to an environmental crusader and a nerdy plant person….

At last. Two years on and we’re nearly there! But it’s been a long road….

From the outset we were lucky enough to have the support of Dusty Gedge, former community activist now Green Roof Intergalactic President and a forward thinking sustainability engineer from Lambeth, Owen Davies whose obsession with sustainable urban drainage set us on a path….

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 12.07.53

‘The great thing about this project is the commitment of the Urban Wild Project, but also buy in and some funding from the local authority. Many pople look out over dreary roofs and dream, but having some funding and real commitment makes all the difference. I have been doing green roofs for a long time and really hope this project is a great success – especially in showing how local communities and businesses can get together to deliver good green infrastructure at a local level’.  (Dusty Gedge)

….And when I say path I mean, of course, rollercoaster. Public meetings, funding applications, surveys, events, more meetings, more surveys, green roof workshops, Green Up festival, did I mention meetings, more funding applications, billboards, kids workshops, interviews, um… meetings and of course a lot of time climbing a rickety ladder up on to the roof with anyone game enough to accompany us….(Thanks Harry for the fish and chips!) There were a series of complicated permission issues to circumnavigate plus the need to make a business case for the shopowners. Initially worried about their reaction to a community project (not all live locally), it turns out they have embraced the idea. There are of course also the difficulties of engaging the community in a project that at present only commuters can see but we do what we can with the funds and time available. In addition to the events weve done already we have plans afoot for periscopes and camera feeds and art installations and a longer-term intention to use the roofs educationally….

And now, at last, we have planning permission! Phew. If only someone could arrange a few more hours in the day…..



“Iconic” (Guest blog by Helen Spring from the Lost Effra Project at the London Wildlife Trust)

It is set to be an iconic project, creating a spectacular green landmark that will inspire not just the people of Herne Hill but the whole of London – and beyond! The really unique part of the project has been the influence of Katy and Caroline and their determination to transform their ambitious vision into reality. They have tirelessly overcome obstacle after obstacle, showing how powerful communities can be in not only creating positive change in their area, but the knock-on effect this has on the bigger picture. (Helen Spring, Lost Effra Project)

Opening up opportunities…. (Guest blog by Mark Bennetton at Landmark Living Roofs)

We were contacted by Urban Wild and The Green Roof Consultancy to discuss the feasibility of a retro fit install on a number of retail shop roofs in the main high street at Herne Hill. The really interesting thing about this project is that the main railway line overlooks the rooftops below, and the vision is to green a long swathe of roofs over the next few years, thus giving the rail passengers a beautiful green aspect from above. The other notable point of interest is that the roofs have been designed as a raft i.e. sitting just above the existing roofs – a very clever design architecturally as it means there is no additional weight placed on the existing roof structure, as the new roofs will sit on beams supported by party walls. 
It promises to be a really exciting project which could open up opportunities for other London boroughs to adopt similar schemes.


Mad, hair brained, deluded….(Guest blog by sustainability engineer, Owen Davies)

Mad, hair brained, deluded,” they want to do what!” was the initial reaction, but as a regular user of the Thameslink service which runs past the roof’s the vision makes perfect sense. When you start to look at the proposals and the overall benefits this project can bring it’s only mad, hair brained and deluded when you realise why it hasn’t been thought of before and why only is it now it’s being delivered.