Posted: 6 March 2015
Increased tourism, inward investment, job creation and greater flood resilience are just four of the many benefits of an ambitious project being launched in the city this week. Public consultation for Worcester Green Skywalk begins at Business Expo, Three Counties Showground on 4th March 2015 when plans will be unveiled for a 1000 metre long raised walkway, similar to the world famous ‘High Line’ in New York.
Linking key parts of the city, including The Hive, the University of Worcester’s City Campus, Foregate Street Station, Worcester Racecourse, the University of Worcester Arena, and main shopping areas, the walkway will revitalise parts of the city and preserve historic features, including the redundant viaduct, as well as creating stunning new sections.
Mark Martin, from Worcester based design firm One Creative Environments Ltd and the business board of the WLEP, believes the project will put Worcester firmly on the map in terms of innovation and raise the city’s profile worldwide.
He said: “Not only will Worcester 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. 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.”
The benefits of the project are many; it will provide an alternative route for pedestrians across the city if flooding occurs, regenerate land adjacent to the Skywalk and enable greater access around the city.
Partners who supported the feasibility study for the project include Worcester City Council, the University of Worcester, Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire LEP.
While funding for the £12.5million Skywalk project has yet to be established, it is expected an independent economic study, which shows significant benefits, will attract investors. It identifies an improvement of between £55m and £217million of social and economic benefits, including additional GVA generated by new employment, pedestrian user benefits and wider regeneration effects.
With funding in place, construction could start as early as Autumn 2015 with a 2-3 year build schedule.
Mark added: “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.”
Following the launch at the Business Expo 2015, an unmanned exhibition will run at the Guildhall from 17th March to 14th April 2015, giving businesses and people another opportunity to see the proposals and to leave comments and suggestions.
Professor David Green, University of Worcester 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 University has invested heavily in redeveloping this area already, through the development of the City Campus, The Hive and the University of Worcester Arena.”
Gary Woodman, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership Executive Director said: “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. 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.”
Robin Walker, MP added: “The Green skywalk is 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. I hope that partners from 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.”