A High Wycombe artist is on a mission to brighten up a town centre alleyway that residents say attracts drug use and prostitution in a bid to stop it from being closed permanently. 

Residents who live near footpath 80 – off Desborough Avenue – say they are regularly disturbed by anti-social behaviour including drinking, graffiti and fly-tipping and support a planned closure of the alleyway, which was recommended by Wycombe District Council’s High Wycombe town committee last month. 

While the closure has been praised by a number of councillors, including Lesley Clarke OBE, who said residents need “respite” from the problems it causes, walking groups and other campaigners have criticised the move.

Dan Wilson, who grew up in the town and has painted a number of stunning murals across the town, including the Brunel shed at High Wycombe railway station and an 18ft-tall painting on an underpass in Lily’s Walk, has now taken it upon himself to make the alleyway a better place to be.

Across two weekends – beginning last week and ending on Sunday – the painter has worked with Cllr Julia Wassell and Cllr Matt Knight to clear up the alleyway. 

He said: “We spent the whole day on Sunday there and managed to achieve a lot in just one day. We strimmed back the foliage and cleared the whole lot. We have managed to make a huge difference already.” 

They also uncovered a hidden flower bed and planted daffodil bulbs in it. He is also planning another spectacular mural to get rid of the majority of the graffiti that has been daubed on the walls. 

When he is finished, the wall will look like it belongs in a “stately home” with Dan painting frames around sections of the graffiti so it looks like artwork hanging on the wall.

Describing his motivation, he said: “Just closing the alleyway is not a solution. I have seen for myself what they call anti-social behaviour from my studio nearby. 

“We do have some problems with litter and people drinking there at 9am in the morning but a lot of people I know do use the alleyway, as do I.” 

“When we were doing the clear up, we saw about 20 people and most of the people were families. Only one person had a can of drink in their hand. If the council closes the alleyway, people will probably just fly-tip over the fence instead.” 

Fellow artist and friend of Dan, Lorna Cassidy, praised him for trying to make the area look more desirable. 

She said: “We know it is being improved and no way should this alleyway be closed.”