Caring for those important little places

Volunteers hard at work painting the tunnel

The Victorian foot tunnel under the railway lines between Redstone Hill and Marketfield Way has been a thorn in the side of local residents for years now.

It’s a vital route linking two parts of the town, yet it has long been distinctly dingy, strewn with litter and blighted by graffiti.

The Council labelled it a ‘grot spot’ – but that didn’t mean it got cleaned up.  The tunnel belongs to Network Rail, but it wasn’t on their priority list for maintenance, and the Council evidently didn’t feel responsibility for it either.

Community clean-up

Our efforts to get the tunnel spruced up recently came to the attention of a television company, Betty TV, who asked if they could film our ‘community clean-up’ for a series for Channel 4. Once TV was involved, doors started opening.

With the blessing of Network Rail, we assembled a team of volunteers, and spent two weeks scrubbing and painting.  We removed moss and weeds – and bagload after bagload of slimy leaves and litter.

Redhill station foot tunnel

The tunnel before its makeover

A specialist paint company, Garrandale, kindly provided anti-graffiti paint free of charge and supervised the work.

We painted the tunnel in Network Rail sanctioned colours, with an anti-graffiti coating, so any future graffiti can be easily washed off with water and a sponge.

So while it is still far from perfect, the tunnel is a lot less grotty now.

Access all areas

In contrast, the Council seems to think that the best way to improve a shabby area is to keep the public out.

The first grot spot they “improved” was the alleyway at the side of NatWest Bank in Station Road: gates were installed at either end to prevent public access.  Now the alleyway alongside the Redhill Community Church building on London Road (formerly Kandootoo) is to be gated too.

Cllr Essex interviewed for Channel 4 at the grand opening

This is a shame – restricting the access between different areas of the town in this way makes it harder for people to get around.

While a lot of attention is paid to the grand schemes to ‘regenerate’ Redhill town centre, we think that caring for less prominent but important little places is vital too.

Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved in future clean-ups, or to suggest a public space that needs some love and attention.

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  1. Sheila wells
    Posted Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I have long thought of doing something about a piece of fenced off land at Reigate station
    which is an eyesore.

  2. Councillor Bryn Truscott
    Posted Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The section between the station building and the little row of shops on Holmesdale Road is pretty scruffy. Is that the piece you had in mind?

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