A public arts project to reclaim a notorious crime-ridden underpass in the town centre has been unveiled.
The ‘Waters’ project, based in the Waters Green underpass and Middlewood Way, displays images of Macclesfield’s past and present on printed and cut steel panels.
They include the iconic 108 steps, the Jacquard looms of Paradise Mill and the Heritage Centre.
Some of the art was based on photographs donated by local residents.
The project was led by Cora Glasser and David Ball, known as ‘Glassball’ and funded by Cheshire East Council.
It followed years of problems with the underpass which has been plagued by antisocial behaviour, drug taking and street attacks.
Councillor Don Stockton, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “To get to where we are now is testament to the Cheshire East Macclesfield regeneration and cultural development teams, who have shown incredible vision to realise this aspirational project.”
Cora Glasser said: “The underpass at Waters Green represents a complex merging of the many layers of movement within a context of local heritage, folklore and everyday functionality.
“Working with local residents, Macclesfield museums and Arigi Bianchi – who allowed us access to their archives – provided us with a varied and rich body of information that shaped the artworks you see today.”
After complaints from residents about the underpass Cheshire East Council created a ‘Public Space Protection Order’, which gave it and police powers to issue £100 on-the-spot fines to anyone taking part in antisocial behaviour including using drugs, legal highs, abusing alcohol, noise nuisance or joy riding.
Other efforts to reclaim the ‘no-go’ area, including landscaping, painting and installing new lighting. Additional cobbles were laid, overgrown areas cleared and natural sight lines have been created to enhance public safety.
Funding came from the council with additional support from the Cheshire Police Crime Commissioner’s fund, Network Rail and Tesco’s Bags For Life scheme.
The project was officially unveiled earlier this month at an event which included sewing wildflower seeds to create a meadow along Middlewood Way to attract wildlife in the spring.