Haverstock Hill cycle lanes order scrapped by Camden Council
- Credit: André Langlois
Camden Council has U-turned on plans for cycle lanes in Haverstock Hill – saying it is looking at the scheme again.
The town hall confirmed today to the Ham&High the experimental traffic order underpinning the scheme had been withdrawn due to a “minor technical error”.
The decision follows a ruling by the High Court on Wednesday that TfL’s Streetspace guidance – which the Haverstock Hill cycle lane scheme falls under – was unlawful following a challenge by taxi drivers in the High Court.
A Camden Council spokesperson said: “When we made the decision on the Haverstock Hill scheme we did so to the published guidance at the time.
“However, since then we have looked again at how we introduce these emergency transport schemes and included further public engagement in the process.
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“Due to a minor technical error in the order for the scheme, we are looking at the Haverstock Hill plans again.
“This will allow us to follow the new engagement process, focus on all of our schemes and concentrate on fighting the pandemic without the distraction of the litigation, irrespective of its merits.”
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The proposals approved by the council in November – designed to boost local cycling infrastructure – were opposed by businesses which feared the scheme’s removal of parking would “finish them off”.
The lanes were set to run along both sides of the street between Prince of Wales Road and Pond Street.
The council spokesperson also said: “We have brought in over 100 emergency transport schemes across Camden in response to Covid-19 to make our streets as safe as possible and to encourage walking and cycling.
“We’ve had to do this at unprecedented pace as that’s what the government asked us to do, but despite this pressure, none of our many schemes have been challenged, with the exception of Haverstock Hill.
“These schemes will also make a huge contribution to our efforts to improve air quality in Camden and tackle the climate crisis.”
The council’s Conservative opposition leader Cllr Oliver Cooper said: “I'm delighted that Camden has withdrawn its illegal plan, but this was no minor procedural matter.
“I've been warning Camden for several months that proceeding without consultation was illegal, but the council proceeded anyway because Camden's Labour leadership is allergic to public scrutiny.
“Local businesses unanimously opposed the proposal and the police said it would make it harder to fight crime. It is unwanted, unneeded, and unlawful.”
Cllr Cooper continued: “The High Court has just ruled that the whole Transport for London scheme this is being funded by is illegal.
“It is vital that Camden doesn't put its grant at risk by proceeding with this unpopular scheme after some procedural tinkering. It must urgently put it towards other schemes instead.”
Belsize councillor Tom Simon (Liberal Democrat) said: "We repeatedly warned the council that a scheme of this nature must be done with proper consultation, that it must be done in a way that has as wide support as possible.
"The Labour administration refused to listen to the local community and to our warnings. It may be that a more balanced scheme, with effective consultation, would have been able to proceed and the area would still have seen a big improvement in cycling infrastructure."
Cllr Simon said that active travel schemes, such as Haverstock Hill, were key to tackling the climate emergency, but that the council's "stubborn arrogance" had "potentially set back" their environmental cause.