One of London’s biggest sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) is about to be built in the derelict pedestrian subway under the Marylebone flyover.

The subway, once seen as the future to divert annoying pedestrians away from the important motorists, spent most of its life as a hangout for the homeless — although later named after Joe Strummer, a musician of some note who once busked here, it finally closed in 2018.

The subway in Oct 2017 (c) ianVisits

Usually, the closure of a subway sees the ramps leading down to the underpass filled in and paved over, but this time that won’t happen, as the slopes are to be planted gardens to collect rainwater and prevent localised surface flooding. Thanks to the depth of the subway, SUDS gardens will be able to support 12 new trees in addition to the more usual selection of ground plants, including over 300 shrubs and over 10,000 bulbs.

Three of the ramps will be turned into gardens, while the fourth, next to M&S, will be retained by TfL for access and maintenance to the subway SUDS system.

The work will take place in several phases, starting with the two northern sections, outside the former Paddington Green Police station and the Bakerloo line station. The third section, outside the Hilton London Metropole, will then follow.

The planting timetable will also be delivered in a phased manner, with each set of rain gardens being planted at different times, based on their aspect and the planting season. The gardens next to Bakerloo line station will be planted first and the gardens next to the Hilton London Metropole will be planted last. Trees will be seen first before plants are added to the rain gardens later in the year.

The work also unexpectedly revives the decorative trees under the flyover itself, as they’ll now be “watered from below.”

Work starts next month, and the whole thing should be completed by the middle of July 2024.

Once the rain gardens, funded by TfL and Thames Water, are completed and fully planted, Marble Arch BID will fund their ongoing maintenance.


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  1. DeDomenici says:

    There used to be a great little art gallery down there. It closed a decade ago, but the website is still active at

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    There was another exit outside Westminster Court, back when it was Marylebone court.

  3. Reaper says:

    I would love to believe that this will improve the area but I have my doubts as it may turn into just another set of poorly maintained and turn into yet another open dustbin into which cans, needles etc will be thrown. Hope I am wrong

  4. Thomas says:

    This area is a toilet at the moment so looking forward to some much needed TLC!

  5. Paul says:

    @Chris Rogers
    There are unconnected subways still in use in this area along Marylebone Road. One is close to Lisson Street/Chapel Street and another close to North Wharf Road/Paddington Green.

    I worked around here in the 1990s and I do remember a disused subway near Westminster Court, but it was closed off even then. I think it was a bit pointless as it only went under the side road (Old Marylebone Road). You can still see one set of closed off steps on Google Street view if you go back to Oct 2008 (you need to be on the opposite side of Marylebone Road to get the 2008 option), but by 2012 the spot looks freshly paved over.

  6. Rosemary Leigh says:

    Great idea for the slopes. I wonder will anything be done to the subterranean part, or will it just be blocked off?

  7. Paul says:

    @Rosemary Leigh
    “Three of the ramps will be turned into gardens, while the fourth, next to M&S, will be retained by TfL for access and maintenance to the subway SUDS system.”

    The implication being that the subterranean part will host a sustainable drainage system, perhaps incorporating rainwater tanks that’ll provide water for the gardens during dry spells.

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