Category Archives: Underpasses

A (section of) road providing passage beneath another road or a railway; a subway.

Graffiti on the Via Ravenna Underpass

A prize-winning mural designed to stop graffiti is decaying, which encourages more graffiti. Richard Childs explains
The history of this mural is interesting. It decorates the Via Ravenna pedestrian subway located close to Waitrose. In 1987 County Council highways staff wanted to reduce the potential for graffiti in a newly-built underpass, part of the walking route between Chichester Station and the College used by hundreds of people every day which is also part of the South Coast National Cycleway from Cornwall to Kent.

Via Ravenna Underpass plaque
Via Ravenna Underpass plaque

The County’s highways team organised a design competition which was won by a College student with a montage of Chichester scenes imagined from a passing train. Volunteers
from highways and the building contractor painted the mural. But after some 25 years it was showing its age, so the Chichester Society decided in 2012 that refurbishing this mural would be a suitable way to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Society’s forthcoming 40th anniversary.
County support
As a first step we applied for a grant from the County Council to finance a professional conservator to survey the mural and report on its condition. In July 2012, the County Council awarded £400 from its Community Initiative Fund as a contribution towards the conservator’s £600 fee to carry out this work. This report identified the cost of the mural’s
conservation and refurbishment could be substantial, possibly as much as £70,000.

A practical solution was identified which cost much less than anticipated. In November 2013, a further grant application was submitted, this time to the County Council’s Big Society Fund for refurbishing the mural, and in February 2014 £9,500 was awarded. We found a mural specialist in Portsmouth and commissioned Art and Soul Traders. The refurbished mural was unveiled on 30 July 2014 by the then Chairman of the County
Council, Councillor Mrs Amanda Jupp; a plaque marks the occasion.
We reproduce here one of the newly painted murals.

Repainted Mural summer 2014 - Passing the Cathedral
Repainted Mural summer 2014 – Passing the Cathedral

How life changes!
For most of 2022 the Chichester Society has been pursuing the removal of increasing graffiti on the Via Ravenna mural. Here is a timeline of frustration:
On 7 February 2022, we emailed Chichester District Council regarding the graffiti. As people probably won’t know, the public are directed to contact the District Council even though some graffiti removal is the County Council’s responsibility. In this case the District Council said they would forward my email to WSCC.
After 7 weeks the graffiti hadn’t been removed so we again emailed the District Council on 18 March. They promised to remind WSCC of the issue.
A further 7 weeks elapsed with no removal of the graffiti so yet again we emailed the District Council on 6 May. This time the District Council suggested that as they were having no luck with WSCC that we should contact them directly!! We decided to write to the relevant WSCC Cabinet Member about the problem.
On 22 June the Cabinet Member replied as follows: I have made enquiries and ascertained that we have a responsibility to remove offensive or racist graffiti from Council managed assets. In this case, as the graffiti appears to be neither offensive nor racist it won’t be
addressed by WSCC. A few years ago the Council agreed to reduce the budget for this activity to reflect the limit of the operations we undertake.

Some of the graffiti is almost artistic!
Some of the graffiti is almost artistic!

Time to act?
We, the Chichester Society, did all the ‘heavy lifting’ during the project to achieve the mural’s refurbishment, while local governments’ contribution has been minimal
and passive. How ironic, given the County Council’s involvement with the mural for over 35 years, that it is now happy to let it be grossly despoiled by graffiti. Clearly the current incumbents at County Hall are unaware of this fact. WSCC’s anticipated net expenditure for 2022/3 is £648 million. Surely a couple of hundred pounds to clean up the graffiti isn’t asking too much. Is it?

Postscript: as at January 2023 the graffiti illustrated on this page remains in place. WSCC’s policy is not to remove graffiti unless it is offensive or racist. What do readers think? Has this graffiti become ‘offensive’?
Richard Childs is a member of the Society’s Executive Committee and this magazine’s editorial group. All images by members of the Chichester Society

THis article appeared in the March Newsletter with additional photos

Vote on options for the City’s local road network

The Chichester City Council, together with the residents of Chichester, are in the process of preparing a Chichester Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan can include planning policies,
infrastructure projects, and aspirations. They have produced a document Southern Gateway: Road opportunities  Chichester Neighbourhood Plan – Background document which examines how the local road network could be improved in the vicinity of the Southern Gateway redevelopment area. It follows on from public consultation through which residents expressed support for a bridge or underpass across the Basin Road level crossing and for re-routing cars out of the city centre.

The document sets out the existing situation with city centre highway routing and four options: Firstly, the two preferred options for highways changes that CDC is considering making, namely

  • – reducing the southern gyratory to one lane (option 10)
  • – building a new link road through the city centre (option 11)

Secondly, the City Council’s new options

  • – redirecting cars out of the city centre, pedestrianizing Southgate (option 12), and
  • – as above with an underpass at Basin Road level crossing (option 13)

There is also the option to stay as we are (options 0)

The options are out for consultation – to express  a choice or add a comment go to here.

Voting will close on 15 December 2020

The Society urges Southern Gateway developer to consider removal of a level crossing

Chichester District Council has selected its preferred development partner, Henry Boot Developments, to deliver the Southern Gateway regeneration project. There has been a delay in the developer publishing their proposal for the Redevelopment and this has provided the opportunity for the Society to bring to their attention “The Height Limited Underpass “, proposed by the Society as a solution to the level crossing problem which blights the Southern Gateway.

This they did in a letter to the developer on 22 June in which they noted that Chichester District Council had concluded with their Regeneration Master-Plan that there was nothing that could be done to remove the crossings despite the public response in the consultation, and in other surveys, that the crossings should be removed.

The letter also referred to the Society’s disappointment at Chichester District Council’s handling of the consultation process as expressed in the Society’s March 2018 Newsletter in the article “Consult, then carry on regardless”. They also referred the developer to 3 articles -”Southern Gateway- A Better Solution”, “A Height Limited Underpass” and “Introducing The Forum Quarter” (the Gateway+ proposal which the Society supported) in the December 2018 issue.

The Society urged the developer, the District Council, West Sussex Council and Network Rail to take this ultimate opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past.

More details of the proposed underpass can be found on this website here

Via Ravenna Underpass Mural Restoration

Older city residents still remember the days when cows used to graze right up to the city walls.

All that changed, however, nearly 30 years ago in the 1980s when someone followed the “wisdom” of the time and ran a road through Westgate Fields.

The road, in its turn, required an underpass in order to keep the pedestrian link which connects, notably, Chichester College and the railway station and sees hundreds of students each day, not to mention all those Waitrose shoppers too.

And if an underpass is to be attractive, it needs to be more than a concrete tunnel. So a competition was launched to design a set of murals. This was rather fittingly won by a Chichester College student, Victor Hang, whose vision was completed in early 1987.

Nearly thirty years on, the underpass was very much showing its age. So in 2012 we started working to get the pass spruced up again, hopefully in time to form part of the Society’s own 40th anniversary celebrations in 2013.

The first essential was to commission a survey, and the Society was fortunate to obtain the services of Katey Corder, a conservator of international standing specialising in murals and walls paintings. Her report informed the Society’s bid to West Sussex County Council for a grant to fund the works. The County accepted our proposals and awarded the grant. We then appointed Mark Lewis and his team at Art and Soul Traders whose colourful murals are illustrated here.

As it turned out, the project overshot our target by a year, but painting work did finish in mid July 2014, and on 30 July 2014 we had a small gathering to celebrate the completion of the work. We were particularly pleased to be joined by Clare Smith and Debbie Burford, landscape architects who had been very active in helping progress the original project all those years ago.