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A popular underpass in Portsmouth city centre will soon be made more beautiful and have improved safety for people living and visiting the area, as new lighting is added, and artwork is developed by local artist Pete Codling.

Artist Pete Codling explains his concept for new artwork at the Lake Road underpass to Cllr Lynne Stagg and Cllr Dave Ashmore

Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner have received funding to improve an area of high crime reporting with better lighting and a new artwork installation at a well-used underpass below Cornmill Roundabout and Lake Road.

Residents and visitors to the city centre will soon benefit from these improvements. Many people use the underpass to avoid crossing busy roads, and the improvements to this key thoroughfare will include better lighting, and a cleaner, more artistic environment.

Enhanced LED lighting has already been installed, and work will soon begin to clean away graffiti, mould and other rubbish from this popular underpass.

The new artwork will be developed by Pete Codling, an acclaimed local artist who created the “Treadgold Fish” sculpture that can be seen on Southsea seafront. He plans to use techniques such as thermo-plastics to create a design for the floor of the underpass, as well as creative insets for the tilework. These updates will help make the area much more pleasant for people who use it and provide the community with a sense of pride in their area.

He said “Art helps us to remember who we are, our history, culture and sense of place. It helps us make spaces into places. This public art project aims to soften the feel of the modern 70s architecture of the Lake Road underpass. By giving it a creative make over with some bold graphic drawings and motifs on the walls and floor, I hope to make the journey through the under pass more pleasant and contemporary.

I will be working with the Council to enhance the lighting, surrounding green park areas and signage to make it feel safer, cleaner and a nicer experience for the community that use it on their journey to and from the city centre.”

A new pathway will also be installed across the grassland from Cornmill Street roundabout to the footpaths either side of Cornwallis House. This is a route that is used by lots of people already, so the council has responded by creating an accessible formal footpath instead of muddy track, improving it for everyone to use.

These improvements are being delivered in partnership with the Hampshire Police Crime Commissioner, funded through the Home Office’s Safer Streets Three funding. It is one of several initiatives aimed at tackling violence against women and girls in the city.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said: “Women and girls in the city need to feel safe whether walking to work, study or to meet friends and family. These improvements will go some way to making this well used underpass a safer and more pleasant place to walk and cycle through. This is a key route for everyone choosing to access the city centre and I welcome the new improvements.”

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment said “It’s really important that we do all we can to make these areas safer for everyone, but especially for women and girls. We’ve already added better lighting to this underpass and pathways next to council housing, and now we want to really make the underpass a great artistic improvement for the community. Anything we can do to make people proud of their area and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour is worth doing.”

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight said: “I welcome any improvements that can help achieve my vision to make Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the safest places to live, work and visit in the country. Improving the safety of this area in the centre of Portsmouth with a high crime reporting rate is just one part of the work we’re doing to improve the area for everyone.”

People can find out more about what the council is doing to reduce crime at www.saferportsmouth.org.uk.