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Court of Appeal gives permission for judicial review challenge over low traffic neighbourhood policy in Hackney

A local campaign group opposed to the London Borough of Hackney’s policy of closing streets to through traffic has been given leave for a judicial review at its third attempt.

Horrendous Hackney Road Closures (HHRC) will challenge the legality of the creation of low traffic neighbourhoods through the council’s emergency transport plan.

39 Essex Chambers said the group’s case was that the council had failed to adequately consider the policy’s negative, as well as positive, impacts and in particular the impact of displacement of traffic from side roads onto congested main arteries managed by either the council or Transport for London.

The case will be argued on grounds of traffic management, equalities, consultation and air quality.

While the plan sets the council’s overall policy, individual low traffic neighbourhoods are introduced by experimental traffic orders, which can be challenged by way of statutory review under Schedule 9 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, within six weeks.

Kerr J initially refused permission for judicial review on the papers, and then again at a renewal hearing.

The chambers said this was primarily because he thought a suitable alternative remedy was statutory review of individual orders, and that HHRC had not brought its judicial review claim with sufficient promptness.

Bean LJ overturned this and decided the four grounds should be put at a substantive hearing.

Bill Parry-Jones, of solicitors Dowse & Co, which is acting for the objectors, said: “Judicial review is an essential remedy to check public bodies which could otherwise act with impunity.

“The Court of Appeal here recognised that it does take time for a community to organise and deploy the resources required for this remedy of last resort." 

Shiva Kashizadeh-Scott, a spokesperson for the campaign, said, “I am so pleased by the ruling. This campaign is not about cars versus bikes. Our challenge is primarily about protecting members of our community whose needs and rights have not been taken into account”.

Hackney declined to comment on the judicial review. It said an initial analysis of traffic counts around the London Fields low traffic neighbourhood - one of several designated - showed signs of traffic reduction both in the neighbourhood and on boundary main roads.

Traffic inside the area was down by an average of 44%, and on boundary roads by 21%, which the councils aid showed “promising early indications of the ability of low traffic neighbourhoods to reduce traffic and support people to walk, shop and cycle locally”.

Mark Smulian