IT looks like a scene out of New York - a 1,000 metre long raised walkway similar to the Big Apple's famous creation which got tongues wagging around the world.

Now Worcester could be set for its own 'High Line' under a radical £12 million project to open up part of the city like never before.

Your Worcester News can today reveal how a proposal has been hatched to erect a huge bridge which would transform the west side of the city and open it up for tourists and pedestrians in way previously considered unimaginable.

The new walkway, starting in Henwick Road, would swirl under the existing railway arches to lead up towards The Hive, signalling the creation of the world's biggest 'green network' of flora and fauna along the pedestrianised route and opening up a derelict viaduct near Orchard House, in Farrier Street in a daring transformation.

The aim is to properly link key assets like the University Arena, racecourse, Hive, city centre university campus, Foregate Street railway station and the shops to help boost Worcester's profile around the world.

Although it has yet to secure funding the project has been talked about privately for some years and a study has been produced, backed by the county and city councils, Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership and university suggesting the economic benefits could top £217 million.

The scheme, known as the Green Skywalk, is the work of city-based design firm One Creative Environments, which says it aims to produce a "stunning" new link.

It wants to submit a planning application to the city council this summer and says if funding can be found work could start before the year is out, with the project finished by 2018.

After developing the idea it now intends to launch a consultation to ask Worcester people what they think.

Mark Martin, from the company, said: "Not only will Worcester's 'Green SkyWalk' provide some tangible benefits for the city in terms of better infrastructure and investment, it will also be a stunning piece of architecture and landscaping.

"The plans include creation of the longest living green wall in the world which will run alongside the railway line, creating a fantastic space in the city and greater biodiversity.

"We really want the people and businesses of Worcester to get behind the project.

"It’s a fantastic opportunity for the city to create something very special, preserving a historic part of Worcester and transforming it for the future."

The company also says the new walkway would feature artwork and around 350 metres of greenery, making it the longest maintained 'eco wall' in the world.

A feasibility study by Zeta Economics suggests the benefits, including better health, more spending in shops, job creation and better access around Worcester during floods would be worth £55 million to £217 million to the economy.


WORCESTER MP Robin Walker last night called for decision-makers across the city to get together to see if any funds can be found to make it a reality.

Although the plans are well developed there is no cash in place to fund the scheme yet, despite it having the support of all leading city organisations.

"It's an exciting concept and I welcome the potential it offers for improved connectivity, disabled and cycle access across the city, particularly with the contribution to increased flood resilience that it could make," said Mr Walker.

"I hope both the public and private sector can work together to make this exciting prospect into a workable scheme that can bid for funding and I look forward to seeing the details.

"Along with existing developments such as the riverside cycle and walkways, the Premier Inn hotel on New Road the Arena, the new St Dunstan’s skills centre and the Hive, this project can play a part in the regeneration and transformation of Worcester’s riverside."

Gary Woodman, from Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said it has the potential to provide "worldwide attention" on the city.

"As part of the development of this innovative and exciting project for the city of Worcester and the county as a whole, discussions have taken place with tourism and construction business groups," he said.

"We now look forward to the public consultation and to hearing people’s feedback on the proposal, which has the potential to attract worldwide attention."

Professor David Green, the University of Worcester's vice chancellor and chief executive, said: "The Green Skywalk would give residents, visitors and students an easy link between St John's and the city - one that would be both practical and picturesque.

"It is an imaginative and innovative scheme that would be a great addition to the regeneration of this part of the city."

The project would be split into three phases if it gets the go-ahead, with the second piece of work resulting in a new glass and steel bridge being erected so people can walk directly off Foregate Street railway station onto the walkway.

Network Rail is still in talks with the design firm about it, and yesterday said it was supportive of the plans in principle.

Bringing the disused viaduct into use for pedestrians, which was built in the 1800s and stops just behind the Odeon cinema in Foregate Street, could cost around £2 million.

Talks have also taken place with Network Rail on that, which also owns the structure and has no use for it.

It sits around four metres below the actual working viaduct, which would not be affected.

We can also reveal how the company decided to develop its proposal after becoming concerned that the derelict viaduct, which is around 400 metres long, could be torn down.

Under the Hive's Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal around £300,000 was originally earmarked towards removing it altogether, but that proposal has not progressed.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, city council leader, said he was keen to "listen and reflect" on the public's views yesterday.

* Mr Martin will be at the Business Expo event, at the Three Counties showground in Malvern between 9.30am-3pm today to answer questions.

An exhibition will also be located inside Worcester's Guildhall from Tuesday, March 17 until Tuesday, April 14 for people to leave comments.