A project to transform the underpass and subway under the A40 in Monmouth has been awarded just under £10,000 in funding from the Wye Valley National Landscape’s Sustainable Development Fund. Led by Monmouth Town Council, the community art project will transform both the subway and underpass of the A40 near the Wye Bridge into two art murals which aim to enhance the area visually whilst raising awareness of the history and habitat of the River Wye and Monmouth town to children and young people, who make up a large percentage of the people who use these walkways.

The plan includes turning the pedestrian subway into an “underwater experience”, displaying the River Wye as if it were at full health with water-crowfoot and salmon, which are rapidly declining. The underpass, which is bigger, will portray the habitat “above ground” and will show off Monmouthshire’s rich history, such as Tintern Abbey and the Kymin, as well as the local wildlife.

The project plans to run workshops with young people in Monmouth, engaging them in the design process with the artist. It will also benefit women and girls by providing a brighter and safer environment to walk through, especially in the evenings, and it will encourage active travel for residents.

Town Councillor Rachel Jupp, who is running the project, said, “I am so pleased we have this funding. I want to say a big thank you to all the community groups in the town, such as the Rowing Club, the schools and the Rotary Club, as well as many others. It’s an exciting boost for the town to get this funding.”

Councillor Catherine Fookes, who spearheaded the funding application to the Sustainable Development Grant, said, “I am so delighted that we have received this funding, and it has been fantastic working with the Town Council to bring the project to brighten up the subways to fruition. It’s been a real team effort! The two walkways are in dire need of a transformative facelift. Children and young people walk to and from school via these walkways, so we look forward to working with them to brighten up this space and make it safer, which will also deter graffiti vandalism.”

Councillors submitted their application for the ‘Monmouth Subway and Underpass Murals Project’ to the Wye Valley National Landscape Team applying to the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) in December 2023. The SDF fund supports innovative and sustainable projects involving local communities within the National Landscape. The grant is administered by Wye Valley National Landscape Team on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Andrew Blake, Wye Valley National Landscape Manager said, “The underpass and subway are vital communication corridors linking the areas of Monmouth either side of the River Wye and the A40. It is wonderful to see this project provide a creative, community-led solution to upgrading the experience of walking through them. Visually telling stories about our natural and cultural heritage will help raise awareness of the fragility of these special qualities of the National Landscape – and the need to care for them.”

County Councillor Emma Bryn who represents the Wyesham ward at Monmouthshire County Council said: “The Monmouth underpass and subway are vital links for Wyesham residents who have to use them to access town and school.

“It’s exciting that they are to be transformed from dull, unwelcoming dim tunnels into bright, lively, vibrant, people-centric spaces that we all feel comfortable using,” she added.