‘Absolute nightmare’ HS2 tram plan along former canal in Erewash dubbed ‘vanity project’

Plans to build a tram on a former canal to connect Derby to HS2 have been called an 'absolute nightmare,' 'appalling' and a 'vanity project'.
Plans to build a tram on a former canal to connect Derby to HS2 have been called an 'absolute nightmare,' 'appalling' and a 'vanity project'.

Plans to build a tram on a former canal to connect Derby to HS2 have been called an “absolute nightmare,” “appalling” and a “vanity project”.

This follows an East Midlands Connectivity Study which said that this was the preferred option to connect the city to the proposed HS2 hub at Toton.

Erewash Borough Council said that it objects to these plans because it would hamper its own aims.

It wants to reopen a derelict stretch of the Derby to Sandiacre canal.

The authority says that despite the higher cost, a “mass transit” option on the A52, such as an extra lane strictly for buses or trams, would be preferred.

At a meeting of the borough council’s executive team on Tuesday, councillors agreed to oppose the option to use the former canal.

Councillor Michael Powell, the lead member for regeneration and planning, said: “We are 100 per cent opposed to a tram line on the Sandiacre canal – not just for green or environmental reasons, but also because it is clear that other options have not been considered – such as using the existing rail network.

“We have got good support for rejecting it from the city council (Derby) who also don’t support it because it does not meet their needs to connect the centre of the city to Pride Park.

“Building on the canal would not just be a loss of that green belt, but soon developers would be thinking ‘ooh, we can build houses around that now’ and we don’t want to see more green belt lost.

“We want to mitigate the bad of HS2 as much as we can, and get whatever good we can.”

Coun Wayne Major said: “This would be an appalling loss of amenity.

“We need to put every possible obstacle we can in the way to stop a tram going down that route.

“Buses cost a fraction of the amount it would take to put in a whole new route – this is purely a vanity project.”

Coun Carol Hart, leader of the council, said: “They (HS2) have got to listen to us, they have got to do more work.

“This looks like it has been done from an office without even visiting the area. We know the area well as local members.”

Coun Mike Wallis, lead member for culture and leisure, said: “This would be a dirty great big chunk of green belt which would be removed.

“It is a huge asset to the area and to lose it would be an absolute nightmare.

“When I read the report, I thought ‘my god, they want to turn it into a giant car park’.

“As a council we have to support the people of Erewash and have to face that responsibility accordingly.”

The study concluded that any route along the A52 would be more expensive due to the number of junctions and bridges that would need to be negotiated, and that tram services would be marginally more attractive to passengers than buses.

However, Erewash planners said that a new route for trams or buses on the A52 would provide the opportunity to make what it says are much-needed improvements to the road and its bridges and junctions.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service