Exclusive: High Court challenge to Haverstock Hill cycle lane plan

Council told it will face legal action if it does not consult with residents and businesses

Thursday, 17th December 2020 — By Harry Taylor

Belsize Park-Haverstock Hill-2016

A HIGH Court legal challenge has been launched in a bid stop a new experimental cycle route being installed in Haverstock Hill.

Amit Shah, who suffers from anaphylaxis, which can trigger severe allergic reactions, says he has hired lawyers because his life will be at risk if there is no quick road route to hospital. The council plans to strip out car parking spaces from both sides of Haverstock Hill, between Prince of Wales Road and Pond Street, in favour of two cycle lanes. An experimental traffic order was issued in November, which would give the scheme an 18-month trial, to assess how viable it is.

But Mr Shah, 38, says he fears that the new measures could stop friends helping him and slow down ambulances.

Amit Shah is the chair of the Steeles Village Residents’ Association

A letter was sent by Richard Buxton solicitors on Friday, telling the town hall to respond by Friday or face action in the High Court. Mr Shah, who lives in Haverstock Hill, said: “When I have an attack, I have to get to hospital within minutes. It’s an emergency because you can go into a coma if you don’t get treatment in time. It is a matter of life and death. It is putting it at risk.”

Mr Shah – the chair of the Steeles Village Residents’ Association – said he is also concerned about the impact on businesses, who have warned customers will not be able to park and some people will not be able to walk or cycle up a steep hill. The legal letter says the council did not properly consult people living and working nearby, contrary to the law. Mr Shah said: “Camden is doing these things in its usual way of ‘Let’s do it regardless and try to ramrod it through’.”

New Department for Transport guidance said last month councils had to consult on traffic changes.

Conservative group leader Councillor Oliver Cooper said: “The council should not be surprised that residents are sick and tired of Camden pushing them around. When providing this year’s record funding for cycling and walking, the Government made clear in law that communities must be consulted.”

Similar schemes have already been removed across London. One side of the Euston Road cycle route put in by Transport for London has been taken up.

Cyclists support the Haverstock Hill lane as part of a wider network of routes to make the roads safer.

The council has said it wants to avoid people turning to cars as public transport use drops due to the Covid crisis.

A Town Hall spokesperson said: “We are in receipt of a pre-action protocol letter from solicitors regarding the Haverstock Hill cycling and walking scheme. “The council is taking legal advice on the letter and will be responding to it in due course.”

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