High Court denies taxi drivers’ JR over London cycle route

An attempt by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) to bring a judicial review of the construction of the East-West Cycle Superhighway (EWCS) in London has been denied by the High Court.

The taxi drivers’ group launched the application against the £47m cycle track last month, claiming Transport for London (TfL) began construction without proper planning permission or an environmental impact assessment.

It is claimed the new cycle path, which runs from Westbourne Grove to Tower Hill, will disrupt the capital’s taxi business by restricting space on the roads.

LTDA general secretary Steve McNamara last month called the controversial superhighway Mayor Boris Johnson’s “last hurrah” before he leaves office in May.

The group instructed longstanding counsel Michael Demidecki & Co Solicitors on the application, with name partner Demidecki instructing Cornerstone Barristers’ Mark Lowe QC and Robert Williams.

The LTDA also turned to Demidecki on a high-profile case brought by TfL last year over taximeters against the group and taxi app Uber.

TfL in-house legal team Transport for London Legal instructed 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square’s Timothy Straker QC and Phillip Patterson on the recent judicial review application.

In the judgment handed down on Wednesday (10 February) Mrs Justice Patterson ruled “planning permission is not required for phase one of the EWCS as a whole”.

She continued: “The EWCS is a very large undertaking and has been the subject of a vast consultation exercise. Statutory undertakers are involved in the relocation of their infrastructure, the construction project has to be co-ordinated with events and ceremonies taking place within the City of London. All of that work is in jeopardy if the current construction program is affected. It all demonstrates that it would not be just or convenient to grant a declaration.

“There is a six week period within which planning decisions can be challenged because of the importance of certainty for a developer to be able to proceed with a project. Here, although one is not dealing with an actual planning permission, the claimant has been aware of the defendant’s stance since the end of January and yet waited until August 2015 to bring any legal challenge.”

The legal line-up

For the claimant, the LTDA

Cornerstone Barristers’ Mark Lowe QC and Robert Williams, instructed by Michael Demidecki & Co Solicitors

For the defendant, TfL

4-5 Gray’s Inn Square’s Timothy Straker QC and Phillip Patterson, instructed by Transport for London Legal