Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


A Community Support Project

The Underpass Regeneration will transform a threatening but vital pedestrian thoroughfare at the centre of Herne Hill, South London. The objective is to turn this neglected tunnel into a safe and inclusive space which will both physically and socially connect our neighbourhood and become a focal point of our community. It will include
- Full-length mural inspired by the history of our neighbourhood and community. It will be outlined by a local artist and coloured and maintained with the help of local schoolchildren, so linking the community: past, present and future
- Community notice boards to allow us all to communicate physically and digitally
- ‘Oral Histories of Herne Hill’ sound installation
- Tuition panels and weather protection for our much loved ‘Street Piano’

The Requirement

The Underpass runs under a railway line and to the side of Herne Hill Station. After 7.40pm the Station closes and the Underpass becomes the only way to and from the trains. The Station is used by over 4,000 commuters a day of which about half enter via the Underpass. Another 1,000 pedestrians also use the Underpass when accessing the neighbourhood.

Our Community piano has improved one entrance but the remaining forty meters are dank and threatening. Organised begging and drug-taking occur. Young and old feel particularly vulnerable, hence the focus of the Project. The Underpass is the most complained about blight signalled to the Herne Hill Forum. One complaint came via a Neighbourhood Plan suggestion card filled in by Missy Finnegan, age 10 (see photo).

An Inclusive Solution

How we implement and maintain this Community Support project will promote Community Inclusivity. As Missy says, “I would like to be involved” and so:
- The Mural: A local artist will produce an outline mural for neighbourhood schoolchildren to colour. The Forum has done this before in another local grot-spot (see photo). The benefit is not only that the children enjoy the experience and start to feel a connection with their neighbourhood but also that the community takes ‘their mural’ to heart, protects and maintains it. This requires a high level of organisation, supervision and artist involvement. Two ‘special needs’ schools will be involved and where necessary panels from the mural will be taken to the schools to be worked on off site.
- Notice Boards: For many, old fashioned notice boards are the preferred means of connecting with the community. As part of our maintenance of the MFU we will digitally promote paper notices of community interest. Our website has 9526 registered users, we have 7603 twitter followers, 2068 people like our Facebook page and our newsletters reach 7377 subscribers.
- History Hear: Over the last two years we and the Herne Hill Society have collected 50 four-minute recordings from our most senior residents. Currently accessible on Sound Cloud, speakers in the Underpass and, hopefully, in the Station Waiting Room, will relay these oral histories to passers-by and passengers. Combining these recordings with the mural will engender a sense of community inclusion for young and old alike.
- The Street Piano: hosts our Community Piano Academy (see photo). Funding will enable us to screen the piano for shy learners, maintain the piano and its surrounding and install a teaching bench. Screening panels will be decorated with hand-positions, scales and chords to encourage beginners to try their hand.

The Aviva Award

The Forum has already secured £30,000 from Lambeth Council for building, waterproofing, lighting and security works. The £25,000 from Aviva will convert a mere ‘space’ into a ‘place’ where the community can become introduced and connected. A budget is available on request. It includes a Street Piano Party and PR to formally open the Underpass, supervision of the Mural painting, maintenance, project management and core funding. Completion is due in 2018.

Project Video

Herne Hill Forum

Moment of Pride

The Herne Hill Forum is a community organisation of volunteers that connects our diverse community. HHF's lead on many noteworthy campaigns such as the street piano & piano academy fundraising, Bundle of Joy and Thames Water flood compensation brought the community together to bring about change.

Location: Herne Hill, London, United Kingdom