CS11: Campaigners withdraw legal action against TfL, vowing instead to back Westminster City Council’s judicial review

What CS11 could look like were it to go ahead. Picture: TfL

What CS11 could look like were it to go ahead. Picture: TfL - Credit: Archant

Campaigners against the CS11 cycle route that would tear up the Swiss Cottage gyratory have withdrawn legal action against TfL – saying they’re better off working with Westminster City Council to oppose it.

Cyclists in Regent's Park. Picture: Justin McKie

Cyclists in Regent's Park. Picture: Justin McKie - Credit: Archant

Tory-controlled Westminster announced last month it was seeking a judicial review of the flagship cycling project as TfL was planning to start work despite neighbours’ objections.

Today the residents’ group that lodged papers with the Administrative Court days before the JR announcement said it would focus all its efforts on backing the council instead of acting separately.

CS11 would create dedicated cycle lanes between Swiss Cottage and Portland Place in the West End. Opponents say the plans to reroute the gyratory and halve lane capacity would divert traffic into residential streets around Hampstead and worsen the problems they are supposed to improve – road safety and air quality.

Cycling and air quality campaigners on the other side of the debate, including a source within City Hall, have rubbished their claims and criticised Westminster for trying to block the scheme they say will make more space for cleaner transport and encourage people to get out of their cars.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, leading the group that was taking legal action, told the Ham&High this afternoon: “We were delighted when Westminster City Council decided to launch an action for judicial review of CS11. This is the most significant action in recent years to protect the residents of our area.

“We have decided to withdraw our own claim and support Westminster’s claim to the full.

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“CS11 in its current form would adversely affect the lives of residents in north west London, their children and their grandchildren.”

Four thousand people have also signed a petition opposing CS11. But not everyone agrees.

Justin McKie of Regent’s Park Cyclists, who lives in Belsize Park, said: “Westminster City Council’s last-ditch attempt to scupper CS11 through a judicial review on the plans to improve Swiss Cottage gyratory is utterly bonkers.

“No one in their right mind would think that junction is anything other than a nightmare to navigate, whatever their mode of transport.”

He told this newspaper last year: “I do not believe that the mass displacement of traffic because of CS11 will happen.

“The issue is that hundreds of parents get into their cars every day to take their children to school.

“There needs to be an incentive for these people to use alternative methods of transport.”

Westminster, which has recently come under fire for U-turning on its support for pedestrianising Oxford Street, last month said: “We fully support the provision of safe cycling and we are making major investments in the City to provide this, working closely with TfL and the cycling commissioner.

“However, residents are overwhelmingly opposed to the Cycle Superhighway 11 proposals.

“As TfL is starting to proceed with the Swiss Cottage section without our support for the scheme as a whole, we have been left with no choice but to back our residents and to legally challenge the scheme.”

A TfL spokeswoman said the transport authority’s plans hadn’t changed.

“We’re planning to proceed with the work at Swiss Cottage starting at the end of July unless we are told otherwise,” she said.

“It’s a dangerous, outdated junction and it’s something we consulted on as part of the plans for CS11. We are committed to achieving that.”

But she added: “We will be waiting to hear as the JR proceeds. We will wait for the outcome of that.”

What do you think? E-mail letters@hamhigh.co.uk.