The ruling by Mrs Justice Beverley Lang in the High Court that Mayor Khan’s Streetstpace Plan was unlawful has thrown the future of the road changes already introduced under the scheme into doubt.
In London both Borough councils and lobby groups are considering their position pending further legal action. Transport for London has said it will appeal the judgement. Mrs Justice Lang said there would be a “stay and delay” while the Mayor for London and Transport for London considered their appeal but “to reduce disruption”, that they should start reconsidering the Plan now, as she did not see that they had grounds for appeal.
Mrs Justice Lang said: “In my judgment, quashing orders rather than declarations are appropriate because of the nature and extent of the unlawfulness which I have identified, which affects not only taxi drivers, but also their passengers.”
She said that TfL and the Mayor would need to reconsider the Streetspace plan, the Interim Guidance to Boroughs and the Bishopsgate scheme, with all three needing to be “substantially amended” to reflect the judgment.
“To reduce disruption, the defendants can turn their minds to this task now, on a provisional basis, as there will be a stay and a delay whilst they pursue their appeal.”
What is a Streetspace scheme?
When the Mayor’s office launched Streetspace in May 2020 this is how they described it:
‘As part of our response to the pandemic we and London’s boroughs are making changes to our streets to make it safer and easier to walk, cycle, roll or scoot. This takes the form of new cycle lanes, low traffic neighbourhoods, school streets, pavement widening and the Central London plan. These changes are temporary and low-cost, using temporary, emergency or experimental traffic orders.’
Which are the Streetspace schemes in Chiswick?
LB Hounslow lists on its website 22 Streetspace projects. Those in Chiswick are:
No 6 all of the projects in the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood
No 10 Wellesley Road and Stile Hall Gardens Closure
No 12 Turnham Green Terrace
No 13 Devonshire Road
No 14 Chiswick Parking Suspension
No 15 Dukes Road Closure
No 16 Fishers Lane restrictions
No 20 Cycleway 9 East (Brentford to Chiswick)
The One Chiswick Facebook group, which opposes the changes, says:
‘The judgement is clear that all schemes under the London Streetspace Plan and the Interim Guidance to Burroughs are unlawful, and this plan and guidance is the basis on which the London Borough of Hounslow proceeded in developing the Hounslow Streetspace Plan, including the schemes above. In keeping with the grounds for the judgement by Mrs Justice Lang all are now unlawful’.
Fate of these schemes unclear
Despite the lobby group’s apparent certainty, the definition of these schemes is not simple and their fate remains unclear. Several of these schemes were in the pipeline before the introduction of the Streetspace Plan. The Wellesley Road and Stile Hall Gardens closure was signed off by LB Hounslow at the same time as Cycleway 9 in September 2019. The Fisher’s Lane closures were introduced by LB Ealing, in collaboration with LB Hounslow, but were part of Ealing’s pre-existing plans for cycle routes, according to LB Ealing. Whether these will now legally be considered as ‘Streetspace’ schemes is a moot point.
Although listed with the Streetspace projects, the Wellesley Road and Stile Hall Gardens closure is described as a ‘permanent scheme’. LB Hounslow has also confirmed that ‘Cycleway 9 is not part of the StreetSpace and that the budgets were from different pots’.
The changes to Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Rd, Chiswick Parking Suspension and Dukes Road Closure were all introduced as temporary schemes and after a round of recent public consultation meetings and a report by an independent urban design company, the council was due to pronounce on whether they would become permanent fixtures in ‘early 2021’. The Turnham Green Terrace scheme was suspended before Christmas pending this review because roadworks had made it unworkable.
The South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood scheme, which includes the introduction of traffic cameras in Hartington Rd so motorists can’t drive straight from Chiswick Bridge to Kew Bridge without incurring a fine, and the blocking of Staveley Rd with a diagonal barrier, were also part of an existing TfL funded project. The question will be to what extent they have been brought under the umbrella of the Streetspace.
Image above: Cycleway 9; photograph Joanna Raikes
Cycleway 9 Judicial Review
Cycleway 9 pre-dates Streetspace, but the version which was introduced in Chiswick High Rd in the summer of 2020 was substantially different to that which was signed off previously by the council. It is also supposed to be ‘temporary’ in this form. One Chiswick is raising funds for the introduction of the temporary cycle lane to be challenged in a Judicial Review.
This application, along with those by other lobby groups in several London Boroughs, will be considered at the High Court on 12 February, as to whether there are grounds for a Judicial Review.
Reactions from local groups
While legal action is pending, the various parties remain tight lipped. LB Hounslow is giving no official comment while it’s consulting its lawyers. The spokesman for Hounslow Cycling Campaign, Michael Robinson had this to say:
“We await the results of the appeal and relevance to other schemes that provide safer cycling and reduce motor traffic”.
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”
Cllr Sam Hearn, the member of the Conservative Group on Hounslow Council who represents Chiswick Riverside ward, told The Chiswick Calendar he didn’t want to see all the Liveable Neighbourhood schemes scrapped.
“It would be a pity to throw the baby out with the bath water” he said.
“Most of it, we agree with. We have to find a way of not having rat runners coming in (to Grove Park) from the A316 in rush hour and we also don’t want cars coming in from the north off the A4 down Sutton Court Rd at the other end of the day”.
At the last Chiswick Area Forum meeting, earlier this month, he Told Head Teacher of Chiswick School Laura Ellener that School Streets had the Riverside ward councillors’ support.
Open Our Roads commented on Twitter:
“Big win for all the communities in London and the nation who are fighting their local authorities for unlawful implementations of Streetspace schemes. We now have legal precedent affirming our objections. Congrats to the taxi drivers, you’re our heroes”.
Leo Murray wrote on Twitter:
“Remind me to stay off the CAPSLOCK snakepit that is Nextdoor, where chiswick pro-car lobbyists are currently sharpening pitchforks & working up a vengeful frenzy over this Judge’s comments on Streetspace schemes”.
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