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Revitalising Cannock’s underpasses increased footfall to the high street by more than 25%

In 2014, Cannock Council approached us to help them renovate one of their underpasses to the town centre.

Cannock’s town centre is famously surrounded by a ring road and the only way to get into it is through the underpass system.

The underpasses over time became quite dirty, smelly and uncomfortable places to walk through, which dramatically affected footfall to the town centre. In a bid to rectify the issue and revitalise the town centre, Cannock Council commissioned Surface Design Studio so we could help them make one of their underpasses a more appealing place to walk.

They launched the “Changing Places” initiative to try and revitalise Cannock town centre. One of the first jobs was to make the main underpass to the town centre, at Beecroft Road, a more appealing access point.

Artwork was created featuring local popular areas and a collage was created. Working closely with the council on this, we did everything we could to make sure the budget was used as best as it could be.

To achieve the most impactful result to a tight budget, we agreed to start the tiling from waist height, as that’s where it’s most visible to passers-by. The artwork was also combined with block colour tiles to help keep to budget. There was a 50/50 split between the artwork tiles and the plain tiles which worked incredibly well. The tiles complemented one another and gave the underpass a crisp, clean new look.

There was a total of 1.5metres of artwork, new lighting and tarmac installed, which completely reinvigorated the underpass. Once work was complete, it was monitored for 12 months which showed that footfall increased by an amazing 25%.

A spokesperson from Cannock Chase District Council said: “The Surface Design Studio worked with Cannock Chase Council in 2015 to transform a dingy underpass in Cannock which was once branded ‘disgusting’ by shoppers into an outdoor art gallery.

“The Council commissioned the Surface Design Studio to produce and install new tiles to the internal and external walls of the underpass. Local artists and community groups were invited to work with the team on brightening up the underpass and provided artworks based on a ‘Now and Then’ theme, reflecting the history of Cannock Chase.

“The Surface Design Studio worked with the Council’s Designer to develop the outdoor gallery and brought it to life.

“The team were involved in the process from start to finish. They were extremely professional and offered a range of ideas and approaches to the project. Due to this, the transformation was achieved within the allocated budget and timescales.

“This was the second underpass the Council had transformed and on both occasions the Surface Design Studio was commissioned. The innovative approach they offer has really transformed the entry features into Cannock town centre and people still come to visit the town just to see them!”

Following the success of the Beecroft Road transformation, we were brought back in for phase two. The Mill Street underpass is also a key access point to the town centre and was described as “disgusting” during a survey to local residents.

Together with Cannock Council we developed a new concept which would both save costs and generate engagement and involvement with the community. We suggested creating a public art gallery using work from local residents.

The council went out to the community and asked them to submit their artwork to be featured which was themed “Now and Then”. 220 pieces of work were selected and digitally printed onto tiles with printed photo frames around them.

Again, the installation budget was offset with a combination of plain tiles and wooden effect tiles which complemented the artwork and added to the overall effect of the public art gallery.

This had a massive response, again increasing footfall significantly not only from locals, but people began traveling from further afield to come and look at the public art gallery. This in turn helped boost the economy as they would stay for something to eat and to shop. It attracted attention from the BBC and gained some great exposure for Cannock.

Talk to us today and find out how we can transform a project of any scale into an exciting visual experience.