The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) has lost a High Court challenge which would have disrupted completion of London’s £47million east-west cycle superhighway. The LTDA had asked a High Court judge to declare that construction without planning permission constituted “a breach of planning control.” However, the BBC reports that Mrs Justice Patterson rejected the application.
The LTDA had sought a judicial review over the East-West Cycle Superhighway despite its head, Steve McNamara, withdrawing a threatened challenge earlier in the year.
The attempt was described by Ralph Smyth of the Campaign to Protect Rural England as “wholly unmeritorious” as it hinged on the route's lack of planning permission – something Smyth said was not needed for bike lanes.
The legal team representing Transport for London (TfL) argued that it would be "inappropriate" for the court to make a declaration as this would usurp the powers of local planning authorities and also pointed out that LTDA’s application had been made after the deadline for legal challenges.
McNamara said that the current route was ‘not the right scheme for London’ and accused Boris Johnson of rushing the project through as a “last hurrah” before the end of his term as mayor.
“We don’t actually disagree that there should be a scheme, but we want to get the right scheme for London. The one being built is not right for our 24-hour city. There is evidence that it is sucking the lifeblood of London, causing traffic jams, with hundreds stuck bumper to bumper, poisoning everybody else with pollution.”
The LTDA suggested a route through quieter streets south of the River Thames used instead.
Mrs Justice Patterson ruled that planning permission was not required for phase one of the superhighway. "That is not to say that it may not be required for certain minor works within the scheme, or that it may not be required for other cycle superhighways or for parts of them in the future. Each scheme will need to be judged on its own facts."
Leon Daniels, managing director of TfL Surface Transport, told the London Evening Standard:
"The court agreed with us that planning permission was not required for the construction of the route to date, and dismissed all aspects of the LTDA's claim.
"Construction continues to progress well and we are working hard to manage areas of temporary congestion around the construction sites. This cycle superhighway will make London's roads safer for all and encourage a more efficient use of the road space."
The mayor's cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, commented:
"Once again, the courts have in the clearest terms upheld our right to improve London for cycling. This is the third legal challenge to TfL-funded cycle schemes to have been dismissed in the last few months.
"It means we can now be confident of finishing the Embankment/Upper Thames Street superhighway on schedule in April, finishing the whole superhighway in summer, and ending the temporary delays that have occurred as a result of the construction works."