Upgrade works start on eyesore Hastings Hill subway in time for new ALDI opening
By Paul Edgeworth
The notorious Hastings Hill subway under the A183 dual carriageway in Sunderland is finally being upgraded after years of complaints from residents - just in time for a new ALDI supermarket opening on 11th June.
Upgrade works have begun on infamous underpass beneath the A183 Chester Road.The Hastings Hill subway links the former Dewhirst site at Pennywell with Grindon and Hastings Hill estates on the south side of the road.
The underpass is notorious in the area for fly-tipping, graffiti and anti-social behaviour and hasn't been spruced up or repaired for years, with lights often not working, walls on the approach to the subway collapsing, with broken pavements on the steps and access ramp that are often covered with overgrown weeds and rubbish.
Works to re-paint the masonry has already started, and the next steps will include replacing lights and fitting them with vandal-proof covers, repairing walls, steps and handrails, fixing uneven paving stones and concrete and removing weeds.
The upgrade is due to be completed in the next three weeks. Public access will be retained for most of the works - but there is likely to be a short closure for a few days when lights are being replaced to ensure staff can work safely and adhere to social distancing.
Footfall in the subway is set to increase when the new ALDI supermarket opens on 11th June on the former Dewhirst site, joining KFC. A coffee shop and new Wickes DIY store are also due to open their doors as part of the same development.
Local Lib Dems welcomed the start of the upgrade - but say they are still pushing for a commitment from Sunderland Council to regularly clean the subway, and for it to be replaced with a traffic-light controlled pedestrian crossing at ground level in the longer-term.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat campaigner for Grindon and Hastings Hill Paul Edgeworth said:
"For years the Hastings Hill subway has been dark, dingy and dangerous, with many older and vulnerable residents preferring to risk crossing the busy dual carriageway rather than going down into the subway.
"I am over the moon that these upgrade works are finally starting and will be finished shortly after the new ALDI supermarket opens it doors. It is something that has been long promised, with hundreds of residents signing a petition by local councillors Stephen O'Brien and Margaret Crosby to make sure the upgrade actually happened after years of empty promises.
"However, local Lib Dems are continuing to campaign for an above-ground pedestrian crossing which would make life easier for a lot of people with mobility issues. Until then, our priority is for the subway to be included on a regular street-cleaning rota so that it doesn't slip back into the bad old days of being full of rubbish, weeds and stinking of urine."