Plans to fill in an Oxford subway — as early as the end of the year — have sparked an outcry.

Highways officers overseeing the multi-million-pound revamp of London Road, in Headington, want to consign the colourful landmark to history, claiming people prefer to dart across the road, dodging traffic, instead of using the subway, which is plastered with colourful murals.

In its place they want to construct a wide pedestrian crossing.

Last night, the news was described as “nuts” by one local.

The fight to keep the underpass is being led by Mick Haines, who carried out a recent survey at the subway.

He said: “In just over four hours I counted 543 people using the subway and 260 people who chose to cross the road.

“And in the same period on Saturday, I counted 611 using the subway and 317 crossing the road.

“Just from talking to people in shops around the area, you can tell how strongly they feel.”

Joan Smart, 60, of Taverner Road, said: “I use the subway all the time. I don’t like using the road, the traffic is too busy.”

Linda White, 51, from Northway, said: “To fill it when people use it so much just seems completely nuts to me. It would be a huge waste of money.”

Headington city councillor David Rundle, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said: “So far, I have seen no overwhelming reason why the subway has to go, nor any reason why we can’t keep the subway and have a crossing.”

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, said: “The county council is proposing a level, wide pedestrian crossing to replace the subway.

“There would be a wide refuge in the middle to enable people to cross in two stages if they wish.

“The subway is well-used, and provides a route under the road completely separate from the traffic. However, large numbers of people choose not to use the subway and instead cross the road nearby without the assistance of a crossing.

“The murals in the subway could be photographed and reproduced on a website.”

  • The plans are on show at Headington Baptist Church, in Old High Street, on Friday, March 27, from noon-8pm, and on March 28, from 10am-3pm.