A community action day was recently held on Saturday 14 July in Spon End, Coventry, aimed at improving the appearance of a local subway. Residents were given the chance to see how colourful lighting could be used to change the look and feel of the subway and there were art activities and the opportunity for passers-by to share their own subway design ideas too.
It’s was organised as part of the ‘Local People Spon End’ project which is a community led street design initiative which we're delivering in the area. It was set up last year with the aim of enhancing public spaces and streets across the neighbourhood. Funded by the People’s Health Trust, it’s one of seven similar projects we're delivering right across the country.
Over the last 12 months our project coordinators, Daryl Coulbourn and Chloe Booth have arranged a number of ‘pop up’ engagement events. At these sessions they listened to residents’ ideas and helped them to develop designs which could be trialled. The Spon Street subway was one of the locations identified through this process.
The subway is a very well used route, a 2017 count showed an average of more than 1,000 journeys were made through the subway into town, during weekday mornings alone. Targeted project engagement sessions have been held within the subway itself to talk to passers-by and find out their views about the subway. The ‘dull appearance’, poor perceptions of personal safety and cleanliness were top mentions during these sessions.
The subway received a thorough clean and partial painting by the City Council in 2017. However, work to clean the tiles is challenging because their age means they are now starting to degrade in places and come loose, so only gentle methods are appropriate.
As part of the engagement process a group of project participants took part in a street art tour in Bristol which enabled them to investigate some potential subway ‘make-over’ ideas – such as the coloured lighting scheme. Many people have expressed their appreciation of the original tiles within the subway – so the group has been keen to explore ideas which allow the character of the tiles to remain, such as changing the lighting in this way.
The lighting trial event marked the start of a series of design workshops over coming months, to develop more permanent design options for the subway. It follows two recent community clean-up days, where volunteers helped to get the subway looking as fresh and clean as possible in preparation.
Our Project Officer, Community Street Design, Chloe Booth said:
“This is a really exciting project and we're grateful for the support we received on the day. We want to raise the profile of the work we’re doing with the subway because we understand that urban environments can have a huge impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Neighbourhoods that are pleasant, safe and sociable are often the happiest and healthiest places to live and work. The character and condition of our streets and public spaces can influence how physically active we are and how positive we feel about our local community overall."
The project is open to anyone who has a connection with Spon End and organisers want more people to get involved.