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Work to transform dingy underpass near Ashford International

By Georgia Woolf

Work to transform a dingy underpass into an art trail is well underway.

The regeneration project will see a dark walkway under the railway line between Ashford International Station and the Designer Outlet transformed ahead of the outlet centre's expansion this autumn.

Ashford Borough Council is working with McArthurGlen and Network Rail to deliver the scheme - which will see colourful murals painted over the dull brickwork and new lighting added to improve the safety of the site.

The first mural has been painted on the walls of the underpass by artist Lionel Stanhope. Picture: Network Rail (8029239)
The first mural has been painted on the walls of the underpass by artist Lionel Stanhope. Picture: Network Rail (8029239)

The initiative has been brought to life by artist Lionel Stanhope, who has been commissioned by Network Rail to paint the murals on the underpass walls and entrance.

The first mural - a vintage style railway sign - has already gone up along the busy underpass.

Mr 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.

The regeneration scheme is underway. Picture: Network Rail
The regeneration scheme is underway. Picture: Network Rail
Lionel Stanhope painting the first mural on the passageway. Picture: Network Rail
Lionel Stanhope painting the first mural on the passageway. Picture: Network Rail

“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."

Pupils from The North School, who travel through the underpass daily, have been invited to design a mural for a section of the walls.

A competition will run in the school and the winning design will be recreated on the walls of the underpass.

The walkway before the project commenced. Picture: Network Rail (8029377)
The walkway before the project commenced. Picture: Network Rail (8029377)

Work on the new look underpass is set to be completed by the end of summer.

It will be painted yellow and green to reflect the colours of the borough council and Southern Railway.

Tracey Butler, head of environment and land management at the 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.”

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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