Regenerating Cannock’s underpasses with art

Cannock Chase District Council approached us to help them renovate one of their underpasses to the town centre. The town centre regeneration project led to a footfall increase of more than 25%.

Cannock’s town centre is 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 Chase District Council commissioned us to help them make one of their underpasses a more appealing place to walk.

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

The collage artwork was created featuring popular local areas. 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 on a tight budget, we agreed to start the tiling from waist height, as that’s where it is most visible to passers-by.

The artwork was also combined with block colour tiles to help keep costs minimal. 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 fresh look.

There was an area of 3m x 30m tiled with artwork on both sides of the underpass. This was accompanied by new lighting and tarmac, 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: “Digital Ceramics Custom Tiles worked with Cannock Chase Council to transform a dingy underpass in Cannock which was once branded ‘disgusting’ by shoppers into an outdoor art gallery.

“The Council commissioned DC Custom Tiles 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 to brighten the underpass and provided artworks based on a ‘Now and Then’ theme, reflecting the history of Cannock Chase.

“Digital Ceramics Custom Tiles 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 various ideas and approaches to the project. Due to this, the transformation was achieved within the allocated budget and timescales.”

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 of residents.

Together with the local Council, we developed a new concept that would save costs and generate engagement and involvement with the community. We suggested creating a public art gallery using work from 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 for the pedestrian underpass design and digitally printed onto tiles with printed photo frames around them.

Again, the installation budget was offset with a combination of plain outdoor porcelain tiles and wood 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 from people who began to travel to see the public art gallery. This, subsequently, was a contributing factor to boosting the economy through increased footfall. It attracted attention from the BBC and gained some great exposure for Cannock as a town.

On the second underpass project with custom outdoor tiles Cannock Chase District Council said: “This was the second underpass the Council had transformed, and, on both occasions, the DC Custom Tiles 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!”

Read all about our outdoor tiling projects here.

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