A big push to expand road closures in London to promote walking and cycling has been declared unlawful by the High Court.
Yesterday Mrs Justice Lang ruled that guidance issued by TfL and the Mayor to councils to introduce road closures in March was “seriously flawed.”
A legal challenge had been brought of the ‘Streetspace’ guidance by black cab drivers, who had argued that the schemes did not account for their role as public transport.
They had also sought a review of road closures introduced by TfL around the Bishopsgate area in the City.
Ruling in favour of the black cab trade, Mrs Justice Lang ruled: “In my judgment, the flaws identified were symptomatic of an ill-considered response which sought to take advantage of the pandemic to push through, on an emergency basis without consultation.”
She added it was “possible to widen pavements to allow for social distancing” without transforming parts of central London into “predominantly car-free zones.”
The guidance – which Mayor Sadiq Khan had said would turn central London into one of the largest car-free zones of any capital city – must now be “substantially revised.”
Under the ‘Streetspace’ guidance issued in March, Southwark Council introduced a number of changes in the borough, including restrictions on through traffic at Bermondsey Street, measures in Dulwich Village and Melbourne Grove.
Taxi drivers have taken particular issue with the road closures in Bermondsey Street, telling the court that it causes long diversions to get to Guy’s Hospital and London Bridge.
TfL also introduced changes on roads it maintains designed to stop car use including on The Cut and extending the pavements around St Thomas’ Street and Borough High Street.
TfL has said it will seek an appeal of the judgement.
Temporary ‘Streetspace’ schemes are enabling safer essential journeys during this exceptionally challenging time and are vital to ensuring that increased car traffic does not threaten London’s recovery from coronavirus,” a spokesperson said.