Objectors to a plan to close streets in Islington to motor traffic have sent the council a pre-action letter warning they will seek judicial review.
Local resident Erik Pagano has led a campaign against the closure of part of Liverpool Road - one of the borough’s man north-south thoroughfares - to motor traffic. The other roads affected are Tolpuddle Street and Penton Street.
The main ground is that Islington has used an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order to endorse the closures, but will only hold a public consultation on this only once the order has been in force for a year.
Islington’s town hall has seen a number of protests against the plans over the summer, but the council has won support from environmental groups.
Feelings have run high on both sides, with objectors also launching a petition on the change.org website, which said: “Islington Council is using the Covid-19 outbreak to push through major changes to the streets of Islington. Closing roads to through traffic and creating more traffic and pollution for the already busy streets that are not able to be closed.”
Rowena Champion, Islington’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “We’re creating people-friendly streets to make Islington a better borough for all, where residents can walk, cycle, cross roads and use buggies and wheelchairs safely and easily.
“Local people have long been calling for measures to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles, and create safer, greener, more welcoming neighbourhoods. This, coupled with the need to enable safe social distancing, is why we have been working at pace to deliver people-friendly streets all over Islington.”
A council statement on the overall scheme said: “These changes will be implemented under an 18-month experimental traffic order. After 12 months, a public consultation will take place to give residents the chance to indicate whether they would like the changes to be made permanent.” Only the emergency serves would be consulted beforehand.
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “More people are avoiding public transport at the moment in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting need for social distancing, which is expected to lead to a rise in motor vehicle use. This will mean more danger, pollution, and congestion on Islington's roads.
“Measures that make it easier for local people to walk and cycle as traffic volumes rise, and that help to prevent a further rise in motor vehicle use, are therefore vital. This is particularly the case in Islington, where approximately 70% of households do not own a car."
Cllr Champion added: “This innovative new cycle route will make it easier for local people to cycle and walk around Islington, enabling residents and visitors to enjoy our borough in a way that reduces unnecessary car journeys, pollution, and congestion.
“Local people know their streets better than anyone, and we’re listening to their feedback. That is why the route is being implemented as an 18-month trial, giving local people the opportunity to have their say on whether it should remain in place permanently.”