People near Nottingham Forest's possible new Toton stadium fear influx of fans

Cameron Jinks pictured in a black shirt at the entrance to his home in Toton
Cameron Jinks said he would not 'relish' living near a Nottingham Forest stadium -Credit:Nottingham Post

"I wouldn't be putting my Derby scarf in the window, let's put it that way." This closet Rams supporter is among scores of residents on a tranquil, suburban street who are seriously beginning to picture life in the shadow of a new, relocated Nottingham Forest stadium.

Hopping off the tram at Toton Lane and walking out of NET's park and ride site, one is currently greeted by a very busy road and nothing but fields. It is on the way towards the nearby housing that a currently barren patch of land lies - land that could, in theory, be Nottingham Forest's next stop after more than 120 years at the City Ground.

There is often talk about whether stories in the media "cut through" on a mass scale, but anyone attending Forest's clash against Chelsea at the weekend would have been left in no doubt that the potential relocation of the club to Toton is causing angst. "Toton's a s***hole, I want to stay here" was the chant ringing out.

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As well as the fans, the people who could potentially end up living right by the new stadium have expressed fears about the plan. The 56-acre plot of land under question in Toton was originally earmarked for development as part of plans for a HS2 station.

The HS2 Toton plan was scrapped in favour of a shortened line which would have connected high-speed trains to the East Midlands Parkway station. Rishi Sunak then announced that the entire northern leg of HS2 was being scrapped, with high-speed trains now only set to run between Birmingham and London.

Nottinghamshire County Council purchased the plot of land for £22 million in 2019, with plans including thousands of new homes and jobs. The authority now says that it is willing to support Forest in whatever it chooses to do.

Yet despite many Forest fans living near the plot of land, not everyone in the area is in favour of the club relocating there. Nearby houses include those along the busy Stapleford Lane and those in the quieter Cleve Avenue. Cameron Jinks, 60, who has lived in Toton for the last decade, said: "I suppose they've got to go somewhere but I'm not sure whether this is the right place.

"This is a quiet area and with 30,000 fans descending on us every second Saturday, it would change that. I'm Scottish so I support Hibernian, but I lived in Derby for years so I'm a closet Derby supporter.

"The thought of 30,000 Forest fans turning up isn't one I'd relish. I wouldn't be putting my Derby scarf in the window, let's put it that way. There's got to be the infrastructure around it as well. There were discussions about having housing on there and that seems more sensible, because we do need new housing."

Land at Toton previously earmarked for HS2, with a huge expanse of the land visible and a muddy, water-logged section of it seen in the foreground.
Land at Toton previously earmarked for HS2 -Credit:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post

One 74-year-old resident said she had lived in Toton for 50 years and that her father was a director of Nottingham Forest in the 1970s, though she said the role at that time was akin to a "registered superfan". She said: "I have concerns about parking in the area and I can't really see it going ahead. It would mean a lot of road access being created and the road out there is very busy anyway."

One woman in her 50s said more detail was needed for people in the area to make a judgement, saying: "I'm not opposed to the idea, but it would have to be managed extremely well. It would be good for people in the area if we were able to see some plans."

Also among those expressing concerns was 55-year-old Pete Whyard, who spoke about the pressure the project could put on Stapleford Lane. He said: "My problem, whether its to do with Nottingham Forest or housing, is that road. It's a joke.

"A football stadium would probably fall into the category of a project of national significance and they would be able to create access to it off the A52, but you'd still get the additional traffic up this road from people getting to it. There could be an increase in anti-social behaviour.

"I'm a Lincoln City fan but the in-laws are Forest fans and my brother-in-law has said that it would be a shame to lose the City Ground. We're quite unique in having the two football grounds so close to each other."

Whether Forest fans will end up singing "Oh mist rolling in from the Erewash" remains an open question. Aside from the symbolic and logistical headaches that a Toton relocation would create for Forest and its fans, it is those who could unexpectedly be thrust next to a Premier League stadium who would face the most change.