West Bridgford Neighbourhood News 05 Nov 2002 -
CW tram debate

ENT submission

Route of our discontent

The Environment Not Trams Committee Group opposes the proposed Clifton via Wilford tram route on three criteria:

We support the Clifton via Queen’s Drive route because:


Over the thirty years since the LMR Great Central Railway line was closed, the corridor between the River Trent and Wilwell Farm Cutting Nature Reserve has flourished as a haven for animals and plants and is designated as a “Site of Importance for Nature Conservation”.

However, if you expect asphalt walkways, manicured grass and neatly clipped shrubs then you will be disappointed. The whole value of the area is that it offers a natural environment for the flora and fauna which populate it an area of countryside within a couple of miles of the city.

The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has formally objected to the route to NET. They state that this route “would result in irreparable damage to a significant wildlife resource in the area”. They consider that this route is inconsistent with the Nottingham City Local Plan, the Rushcliffe Local Plan, the Nature Conservation Strategy for the City of Nottingham (2000.2005) and statutory protection.

The Trust have stated that they consider the NET’s alternative route to Clifton via Queen’s Drive to be a preferred option.

Other groups who oppose the route are the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, English Nature, the Ramblers Association and the Council for the Protection of Rural England.


The estimated cost of the proposed route is around £94m; the cost for the four lines under consideration will be £540m — if the project comes in on budget. These are vast sums of money and one would assume that before spending such sums, the case for doing so would be irrefutable.

Yet this is far from true. To make an economic case for the route, NET has had to assume that every tram will have 60 passengers. This seems a ridiculous assumption when bus services in the area are constantly under threat due to low patronage.

The most bizarre aspect of these calculations is that one of the major contributions is what NET call ‘non-user benefits’. This is a value placed on the time car drivers will save because the roads are less crowded due to so many people being on a tram!

The ENT Group has repeatedly asked NET to provide details of their financial calculation’s and evaluation and patronage models. We want to understand their cost/benefit model in a way that is comprehensible to ordinary people.

NET have this information but they refuse to make it available. We were always led to believe that road capacity expanded to fill the space available so journey times stay the same. And who decides on the value of the time ‘saved’?

The only local people who will really benefit from the route are those in Wilford Village. To upgrade the Penny Bridge and run a bus through the village into town would cost thousands not millions.

For the school children who travel to the area, the catchment area of the route is so limited that it is hard to believe that it will benefit a significant number of students.


Since the LMR rail line was closed thirty years ago, the area between Wilford Lane and Silverdale has seen massive development. Part of the old embankment has been sold, and adjacent land has been developed for housing.

From NET’s own figures there are now “about 65” homes “located within 20 metres of the route” and many are very close. Trams will run seven days a week from six o’clock in the morning until midnight, at frequencies up to every ten minutes in each direction. To claim that the current situation is in any way similar to what existed prior to 1970 or to claim it has not been developed is simply ridiculous.

In the 1996 Nottinghamshire Structure Plan Review, provision was made to prevent development of former railway lines that may prejudice their use for a rail network.

The development of the Wilford Lane to. Silverdale alignment took place long before 1996. The City and County Councils have extracted the value of this land in full measure.

Yet, not a single conveyancing search prior to February of this year revealed any intention of using the corridor for transport. Indeed, in the early 90s people were assured by Rushcliffe Borough Council, in conjunction with Greater Nottingham Groundwork Trust, they had carried out considerable work to improve access to the area and people were assured that there was no intention of using the land for anything other than as a nature trail.

NET has recently announced its intention to run trams at speeds of up to 50 mph through this residential area.

The tram is 100 feet long and weighs 50 tons. In addition there will be three stations. Every home will be subjected to the noise that will be generated by the acceleration and braking of the trams at these speeds, this raises considerable safety worries.

Incredibly, NET maintains that this will not devalue properties and that all these things can be mitigated against. Doubtless, if the tram goes ahead we will lose our bus services, yet, for every resident on Ruddington Lane, the nearest station on the route will be further away than the current bus stop. The same is true for most people on Compton Acres. To claim this will ‘generally raise property values’, as both NET and the ‘Yes’ lobby have claimed, is, in our opinion, nonsense.

For very few people in Wilford and Compton Acres will the route offer any improvement in services, while for a substantial number there will be a major negative impact.


The environmental impact of the CW route is enormous, yet it is difficult to identify any significant advantage for the Wilford and Compton Acres residents or the people who travel to the area.

The alternative route provides the same advantage of rapid transit from Clifton/A453 to the City without the same degree of environmental impact and, since it runs through a commercial and business area, there are no harmful effects on residents.

It seems is quite clear to us that the route is being promoted because it is the cheapest.

The environmental impact and public opinion count for nothing.

NET would have you believe that the choice of the route that has been chosen is irrevocable and that the fight is over.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The County Council (much to its credit) has yet to approve the route. NET still need Government approval and a Transport and Works Act Order and they still have a Public Enquiry to get through.

This fight has only just begun.

A CW YES! critique of the ENT submission

The ENT submission is poorly-argued, contradictory, and does not have supporting evidence. Of course CQD has a virtually zero harmful impact on local residents. Apart from the fringe of the Meadows, there are no local residents anyway north of the Trent – and that provides the traffic deficiency. Much more importantly, trams are not “harmful” to people living adjacent, as the evidence of tram operation in other cities shows. Calling Wilford embankment an area of countryside is a delightful euphemism for derelict land in an urban area.

The objection to CW by the wildlife bodies is emphasised. But, as this website has already explained, the wildlife value is modest. The cost of CW is mentioned, but not CQD at £26 million extra – that could pay for the Chilwell tram extension (Beeston town centre to Bardills, Stapleford).

If the CW trams run every 12 minutes for 18 hours daily, the average loading per tramcar would indeed be 60 passengers. But this is a very crude average, taking no account of differential flows between peak and off-peak. Up to 2/3 of traffic is forecast for the business peak. Adjusting the figures means CW tramcars in the peak would be heavily loaded, 150 passengers or more – unless extra trams run, as well they might, at a headway of six minutes. Those who would scoff at this loading should consider that NCT intend to introduce bendy-buses on the no. 48 Clifton-Nottingham service to boost capacity. But the buses will still get stuck in traffic jams over Clifton Bridge! Off-peak, an average of 25 passengers per tramcar can be expected with CW, if the trams run every 10 minutes. This is not a stunning figure for a tramcar with a maximum capacity of 200, but it still relates to the NET forecast of 3.9 million passenger journeys par annum – so if the forecast is realised, the tram will be quite profitable.

Of course it is easy to sneer at externalities or third party benefits – the idea that remaining car users in future would have faster journeys because of the tram reducing the number of car trips in the first place. If we do not have the Nottingham trams, car and bus journey times are going to lengthen!

ENT admit the CW tram will benefit people living in Wilford village. However, they advocate instead a direct bus from the city centre to the village over an upgraded Wilford bridge across the Trent. This, we are told, would cost thousands instead of a tram costing millions. So why do ENT also want to dump the Clifton tram on Queens Drive, when this route costs £26 million (30%)more than building the CW tram? Unlike a bus, the CW tram will penetrate the city centre, allow cross-city running, be faster, and much more frequent. Beat that, then!

It is no good ENT saying the catchment area of CW is too limited for schoolchildren, and in the same breath professing CQD will get commuters to workplaces on Queens Drive (it won’t). The Emmanuel CE Secondary School in Wilford village strongly supports the tram. So does New College, Nottingham regarding its staff or students living south of the Trent, in future able to commute by tram.

The building of Compton Acres housing long after the railway closed, or the fact that the trams will be far more frequent than the steam trains, does not contradict the serious difficulty in proving the trams will be noisy or dangerous for speed. ENT should be congratulated for telling us the benefits of the tram for speed and frequency. ENT quote the County Structure Plan policy endorsing safeguarding abandoned railway routes for possible new railways. For a start, this policy stems from advice given by the Transport Secretary, and secondly, since the Structure Plan is undergoing review, it overrides the Rushcliffe Local Plan. And the City Local Plan clearly supports the tram, with indicative routes on the Proposals Map. No local planning authority can ever guarantee that any open land will be safeguarded forever from development, either to satisfy private amenity for immediate neighbouring householders, or for any other reason. Wilford embankment is not the private property of people who just happen to live alongside.

It is quite true that for every resident on Ruddington Lane, and indeed many more in the streets leading off, the Wilford tram stops are more distant than bus stops. Similar applies to Compton Acres. So why should anyone use the trams? The answer is they are faster and more frequent, and no amount of bus improvement is going to change that.

The tram objectors are entitled to their opinion that their homes along the embankment will be devalued by the tram. CW YES! looks at the impact of trams in other cities on property values. Also, in Nottingham right now, houses along Line One, only a few yards from the track, are still rising in value handsomely in Hyson Green and Cinderhill. Estate agents report brisk business in Basford, Bulwell and Hucknall. It would be quite extraordinary for the tram to devalue property along Wilford embankment.

CW YES! submission

The benefits of the Clifton-Wilford tram

The frequent and fast trams of the Clifton-Wilford (CW) route will make a big improvement to public transport south of the Trent. CW will relieve traffic on the limited crossing places over the river, Clifton and Trent Bridges. This is especially important in the commuting peak periods, since two-thirds of traffic is carried at this time, and the trams will be 2 to 3 times faster than the present buses stuck in queues. The trams will be punctual, reliable and comfortable, with a modern attractive image.

CW will connect important radial traffic flows to the city centre in a fresh, direct and original manner. The trams will link up Wilford village and Silverdale, currently served by circuitous infrequent buses. At present there is only a single road access to each of these areas, whilst the river, the ring road and the embankment act as physical barriers. CW will reclaim the derelict embankment route in Wilford, logically restoring to it the very use for which it was built.

Clifton provides an important market for trams, since car ownership is relatively low. A park-and-ride site at the Barton Green terminus will cater for up to 800 cars daily, providing some relief to the A453. The tram is an essential complement to the major road improvement options currently being considered. Another p&r south of Wilford will serve Ruddington and many south Rushcliffe villages.

Objections mistaken

A small number of people living along Wilford embankment are aggrieved with CW. They think the sight and sound of the trams will debase their amenity and devalue their homes. This is alarmist and mistaken - they are not going to suffer hardship.

The tram will run along the trackbed of a former busy main line railway. Nearly all the homes on the Wilford side of the embankment were built long before the line closed, and its presence was not disturbing to the past generation of residents. Consequently, it is not credible to suggest the trams will be noisy or their speed dangerous. On the contrary, trams are quieter than buses. The current road traffic noise on Wilford Lane is louder than the trams will be, and other roads in the area with through traffic and buses have intermittent noise.

With regard to property values, experience from other British cities and abroad shows that wherever trams go, properties in the area rise in value – even those a few feet from the tram tracks. In Croydon, with its acclaimed Tramlink system, in the last three years houses within walking distance of the tram stops have nearly doubled in value, twice the rate of increase as the rest of south London. There is housing where the front doors are only 35 feet from the tram tracks, with no trees to shield the sight of 20 tram movements per hour. Standing next to the tram tracks, the hum of traffic on a busy main road over 100 feet away is more audible than the trams, yet hardly uncomfortable. Since the tram stop is only two minutes walk, the homes have risen over 40 per cent in value in the last two years. The trams don't produce mass devaluation of homes immediately alongside - trams are all too popular and useful!

Wilford embankment

Wilford embankment is poorly used for recreation. The wildlife here and at Iremongers Pond in the village has modest quality – there are no legally designated or protected sites, no nature reserves, and not even any protected species. Since the wildlife is commonplace, it is adaptable, resilient and able to survive.

The tram company will demolish the embankment south of Wilford Lane and put the tram tracks at ground level. Enough land each side will be released for earth bunding and fresh tree planting to safeguard the amenities of the people living alongside. The mitigation will provide screening of the trams; absorption of the modest noise the trams will make; replenishment of the wildlife; and a positive visual improvement to the local landscape.

CQD – an unsuitable route

The calculated benefits of CW exceed costs by £42 million (40 per cent). Investing in more buses, bus lanes, and other traffic management, as an alternative to the tram, could not produce a better social return. The discarded Clifton-Queens Drive (CQD) tram route is a much worse option than CW for a tram from Clifton to Nottingham. With CQD, costs exceed benefits by £48 million. Consequently, this slower and unviable route would not qualify for government funding. Unlike CW making use of a widened Wilford Toll Bridge, CQD requires an expensive new approach viaduct and bridge over the Trent, making the route 30 per cent more costly to engineer than CW. The other problem with CQD is a weak traffic prospect serving the business and retail parks north of the Trent. The workers and shoppers live scattered far and wide over the Nottingham area, so most would not use the tram.

Trams must serve where people live, the origin of their journey, and CW does that splendidly, connecting numerous residential areas to the city centre, the intended destination of most journeys made by people along the tram route. Whilst Clifton will provide most CW passengers, Wilford and Compton Acres will far outstrip in traffic what the workplaces along Queens Drive would have produced.

On commercial grounds, without a doubt CW is the better route. Even on recreation and wildlife issues, CW and CQD have comparable impact.

The right way forward

Certainly CW requires much landscaping around Wilford, especially in the village. The tram company is negotiating right now with the wildlife bodies, particularly on the drainage issue at Wilwell Cutting. Overall, the constraints will be resolved and the tram will be assimilated into the landscape.

Clearly, CW is the right answer.

The CW tram will be a great asset for the people of the area it will serve – Say YES to a tram for Clifton, Wilford and Compton Acres!

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