London planning news, July 2021


London planning news, July 2021

05 Jul 2021



Headline news


Court of Appeal overturns decision on Mayor’s Streetspace program

The Court of Appeal has overturned a decision by the High Court, ruling that the 'Streetspace' plans brought forward by the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) during the last year’s lockdown had in fact been lawful.
The Streetspace Plan was introduced in May 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary aim of the scheme was to facilitate walking and cycling by providing more dedicated road space for pedestrians and cyclists, while reducing the amount of motor traffic, with the exception of buses.
The Plan was introduced shortly after the Secretary of State had published guidance, calling on local authorities to swiftly introduce measures which included restricting access to motor vehicles and designating roads for pedestrian, cycle and bus use only.
The original judicial review in January, made by a group representing London’s black cab drivers, was made on five grounds against the Mayor and TfL. It was claimed that the parties had failed to distinguish taxis from “general traffic”, not having proper regard to the public sector equality duty; the plans formed a disproportionate interference, by “control of use”; while the property rights of taxi owners had not been taken into account. It was also claimed that the plans breached the groups’ legitimate expectation to travel on London's roads, and make use of its bus lanes; while claims of irrationality were made, in regard to the scale, ambition and description of the proposals. 
Allowing the judicial review in part, and quashing the Mayor’s plans, Lang J commented in her Judgement, that the scheme and its implementation "far exceeded what was reasonably required to meet any temporary challenges created by the pandemic”, describing the planning and decision making process as “seriously flawed”, considering the actions were “not a rational response to the issues which arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic".
Following a subsequent appeal by the Mayor and TfL, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision on 16th June. The Mayor commented in a press release:
“The Judges’ decision today, along with the vote from Londoners on May 6th, is a double mandate allowing us to continue with our bold measures. Our changes to Bishopsgate make it safer for people walking and cycling. This central London scheme is the centrepiece of the work we have done across the capital during my first term. Recent data from TfL demonstrates its success, with 700 bikes per hour on average passing through the area at peak times – more than 11 bikes per minute.”
In related news, the High Court has dismissed a challenge against Lambeth Council by a disabled resident in relation to a Low Traffic Neighbourhood introduced last year. The Judge rejected the claimant’s challenge on all grounds; which were that the council had wrongly used Experimental Traffic Orders, breached the public sector equality duty and road traffic regulations, and failed to consult the public adequately.

R. (on the application of United Trade Action Group Ltd) v Transport for London EWHC 72 (Admin), [2021] (on the application of Sheakh) v Lambeth LBC EWHC 1745 (Admin) Case No: CO/4284/2020Mayor of London, Statement from the Mayor on the Bishops Gate Decision




Quote of the month

This decision from the Court of Appeal is a vindication of our policies. Our world-leading Streetspace schemes are helping protect the health of Londoners, and this decision reinforces my determination to make it safer and easier for Londoners to walk and cycle, and to help ensure a green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
Statement from the Mayor of London, on Bishopsgate decision


Westminster Council announce plans to pedestrianise Oxford Circus

A proposal which would adapt the existing road junction at Oxford Circus into two new pedestrian piazzas has been announced by Westminster City Council and The Crown Estate. It is hoped that the proposals could be complete by November 2021.
The plans seek to retain the north-south route along Regents Street, with new piazzas sited on the eastern and western edges of the Circus. Significant adaptions to the existing road network in the wider area will redirect traffic off of Oxford Street and to the north of the new public space. Underpinning the proposals is an ‘Experimental Traffic Order’ which will allow the changes to the road network Oxford Circus without any further consultation.
It is hoped that improvements to the public spaces in and around Oxford Circus will help make the area greener and safer, prioritising people over vehicles and reducing air pollution, while also encouraging dwell time. The detailed design of the scheme will be put finalised through an international design competition held by the RIBA.
The plans form part of the council’s wider strategy for the Oxford Street District which seek to restore its reputation as “a must visit destination of choice for domestic and international visitors, when restrictions ease, as well as the place to start, grow and expand businesses”.
A spokesperson from Westminster Council commented on the plans:
There is an urgent need to tackle issues with pedestrian congestion and safety, poor air quality and noise. The serious congestion of Oxford Circus, of people and of traffic, is unsustainable and demands action. In the aftermath of the pandemic, and with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, there is an overwhelming need and a compelling opportunity to build back better; a business-as-usual approach will no longer work.

Westminster Council, Unveiling our plans for ‘iconic’ Oxford Circus

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