Rail passengers, residents and shoppers are enjoying a brighter and more welcoming journey through Newtown Road underpass thanks to a regeneration initiative between Network Rail, Ashford Council, renowned artist Lionel Stanhope and local secondary school pupils.
The busy underpass, which connects Ashford station’s regional platforms with international services, Newtown Road and nearby retail outlets, is being painted with murals and having new lighting added.”
Artist Lionel Stanhope has been commissioned by Network Rail to paint the murals on the underpass walls and entrance. The first, completed yesterday, is a vintage style railway sign.
Mark Ellerby, project sponsor, Network Rail, said:
“Ashford is going through a huge regeneration with rail and the town’s international connections right at the heart of its growth.
“We’re excited to be working with the community, local schools and artist Lionel Stanhope to provide an attractive underpass that improves passenger experience and showcases Ashford as a destination”.
Tracey Butler, Head of Environment and Land Management at Ashford Borough Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this initiative has taken off. This is a really important passageway, used by many Ashford residents, and these improvements will make it a much safer, more attractive way to connect key areas of the town.”
Pupils from The North School, who use the underpass daily, have also been invited to design a mural for a section of the walls. A competition within the school will choose a design that celebrates Ashford’s rich history and Lionel Stanhope will then recreate it on the walls of the underpass.
Lionel Stanhope said: “I’m really excited to be part of this project as it takes my work further out of London into areas that I didn’t think I’d be working.
“It’s also great to do some outreach work with a big local school and engage them in my work. Hopefully it will inspire artists of the future”.
The improvements to the underpass complement the council’s plans to encourage cycling and walking throughout the town over the next ten years, as well as responding to calls made by residents in the recent Town Centre Consultation to provide safer outdoor areas for commuting.
The new look underpass will be completed at the end of Summer 2019. The murals’ colour pallet will be yellow and green to reflect the colours of Ashford Borough Council and also the Southern Railway as it was.