Yes folks - 'tis true! Big changes are afoot in the pedestrian underpass next to Herne Hill station, and the keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed some major improvements already.
Forlorn, dingy, and off-putting it may have been, but this much-used thoroughfare in Herne Hill is a vital link between our high streets, businesses, transport hubs and public spaces. So we've made it our mission to give it the love it deserves. Over many years, gradual improvements have been achieved - the community notice boards, street piano, local map, art installations, business profiles - all have proved how much the community uses and notices this space, and create a case for much bigger improvements. And it's these that are upon us now...
So what can you expect? Well, already you'll notice that the grotty old anti-grafitti panels are a thing of the past, and South Eastern have installed new lighting and given everything a lovely fresh lick of paint. So now we're set for the fun stuff to begin...
On the station side of the tunnel, look out for lovely painted blocks of colour, with powder-coated display boards mounted on top to allow the community to show off its loverly artwork.
On the piano side, we're going AMBITIOUS! Brilliant local artist Victor Szepessy is currently camping out in the big empty space above the station, creating a masterpiece - a 40m long mural all about Herne Hill's people, places, fables and myths. The mural is being drawn in outline on parachute fabric, and then the fun really begins, cos we're aiming for a Guinness Book of Records with this! Our mission is for every child in every primary school in Herne Hill to colour in a section of the mural. We'll be working with 7 schools - Jessop, Michael Tippett, Herne Hill School, St Jude's, Turney, Rosendale and Judith Kerr - a whopping 1,700 kiddos!
The world record attempt will take place on Wednesday 12th September. We'll be closing Station Square to traffic and transforming it into a hive of mass colouring-in activity, with our sights firmly set on that record...
Follow the mural on Twitter to see it evolve - @underpassmural - or visit Victor's website here for a sneak preview of artwork from the mural.
And if your little ones can't wait until September, why not get them involved in the Colouring-In Competition in the meantime? There are three age categories, each with two of Victor's beautiful drawings to colour in. And as part of the prize three lucky winners will have the chance to be included in the mural itself. Colouring-in sheets can be collected from the Community Stall at Herne Hill market, and the deadline for entries is mid August - good luck!
'We're aiming to give all the children of Herne Hill a day they will remember for the rest of their lives; and all the people of Herne Hill a beautiful space , at the epicentre of the community' (Lucy Reynolds, project manager).
So, that's the underpass project in a nutshell - we're aiming to cut some very official ribbon and have a big knees up in late September - watch this space and we'll hope to see you there! But that won't be the end of the transformation track by a long-shot. Next stop is upstairs @ the station, and the regeneration of the underpass leads towards this much bigger and even more ambitious project. What's that you say? Well, above the station is a great long empty space, with beautiful views across the park. It's currently mothballed and inaccessible, but we're working hard with South Eastern to bring it back into use as a new town hall and community centre for Herne Hill. We'll be putting in a bid to the GLA Good Growth Fund to explore the feasibility of this concept, and will begin running a programme of events and activities up above the station to harness demand for a new civic space right at the heart of our community. The underpass unveiling will be a vital step towards this, and will help us get this heart beating again! We would love to hear your ideas and views on ways in which we might use that space - please leave any thoughts below and we'll weave them into the pot.
Pssst! How's the underpass work being funded I hear you ask? Remember way back when we got the new Tesco development? A corner of the Section 106 funding from that work has been pinned down and sanctioned for the underpass project, topped up by the amazing Aviva Community Fund that all your lovely votes helped us to secure. And then we have some fabulous in-kind resource coming in from South Eastern and Network Rail - so it's a nice partnership pot we've able to work with to bring these changes on.