New transports of delight
A Tramlink extension could soon unlock the Wandle Valley, discovers Anna White
ACENTURY ago the London tram network was the largest in Europe and deemed an important driver of social change, encouraging early commuters to relocate from the polluted inner city to the suburbs.
Thinking changed, however, and trams were abandoned by 1952 after a prolonged period of under-investment and weren’t reintroduced until 2001 on a much smaller scale in Croydon.
But the London tram is on the move once again. Homes & Property can reveal that Transport for London (TfL) has committed £70 million to an extension of the Croydon network. The new branch will run from South Wimbledon, through Morden to Sutton.
This budget has been allocated from the TfL’s £550 million growth fund, a pot of money earmarked to help boroughs with small transport infrastructure projects.
A spokesman for TfL said: “Delivering the scheme would support the provision of new jobs in the area, at least 10,000 new homes and improve public transport accessibility to Morden, Sutton town centre and St Helier.”
Plans were originally backed by the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who pledged £100 million, but came under threat in January when Sadiq Khan withdrew the money claiming it wasn’t a funding priority.
The scheme, which would take pressure off the troubled Southern Rail operating trains in the area, has now been given approval and is included in Mayor Khan’s draft transport plan, out for consultation until next Monday.
The extension could cost up to £350 million. TfL is now waiting on Merton and Sutton councils to commit significant contributions to the project before timeframes can be agreed, the TfL spokesman explained.
“It’s about time that the boroughs pulled their fingers out finance-wise and started getting serious about this vital project. We need everyone to treat this as a priority, get real, and deliver the tram,” says Steve O’Connell, a Croydon councillor and member of the London Assembly.
Both TfL and Councillor O’Connell believe the extension would unlock the Wandle valley. The River Wandle runs past Carshalton, Hackbridge and Morden into the Thames at Wandsworth.
The extension would start in Sutton, 10 miles south-west of central London, allowing commuters to reach the bottom of the Northern line at Morden in just a couple of stops rather than taking trains overground to a packed Balham and changing there.
According to William Campbell, branch manager of Foxtons Sutton, the extra infrastructure will bring more buyers into the area and drive property prices up.
“We are already getting an overspill of buyers in Sutton who can’t afford what they want in South Wimbledon, Streatham and Crystal Palace, where a two-bedroom flat can cost £500,000. First-time buyers find spacious Thirties family-sized homes with garages and gardens here,” said Campbell. “The tram extension would really put Sutton on the map.”
A three-bedroom terrace in Sutton starts from £425,000 and a four-bedroom family home from £475,000.
“The property market in south London is tough,” says Jack Meddings of Bairstow Eves. “People are searching