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Inspector Recommends an Important Modification to The Camden (Torrington Place to Tavistock Place) (Prescribed Routes, Waiting and Loading Restrictions and loading Places) Traffic Order [2017] in Bloomsbury, London

Timothy Comyn
Charles Forrest

Following a 4 week public inquiry held in the autumn of 2017, Inspector Martin Elliot BSc FIPROW has recommended that the Camden (Torrington Place to Tavistock Place) (Prescribed Routes, Waiting and Loading Restrictions and Loading Places) Traffic Order [2017] is not made in the form proposed and promoted by the London Borough of Camden, but instead that it be modified (under regulation 14 (4) of the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996) to adopt an alternative proposal sought by a number of the objectors in evidence before the inquiry, namely, to provide for the movement of westbound vehicular traffic only in the Torrington Place to Tavistock Place corridor instead of eastbound only as proposed in the draft Order.

The Torrington Place to Tavistock Place corridor is an important traffic thoroughfare in Bloomsbury which connects Judd Street/Hunter Street with Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road. 

The Traffic Order, as proposed by Camden Council as traffic authority pursuant to its power to make such an order under ss.6 and 9 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (and which had been in effect on an experimental basis since November 2015) would, inter alia:

  • remove two-way (east/west) vehicular traffic and replace it with eastbound vehicular traffic only;
  • split the single two-way narrow cycle lane into two separate, wider one-way cycle lanes; and
  • widen the pavements for pedestrians.

The inspector, whilst acknowledging that the proposed Traffic Order would provide significant benefits for cyclists and pedestrians including greater capacity and improved pedestrian safety, found that many of its claimed benefits such as improved air quality across the Borough and ensuring a modal shift away from use of motor vehicles towards cycling and walking were unfounded or unproven.

He concluded on the evidence before him that those benefits for cyclists and pedestrians which did or would exist as a result of the Traffic Order as proposed, could equally be delivered by the alternative proposal promoted by many of the objectors for westbound vehicular traffic only, whilst also preserving a “much needed westbound route” for vehicles used to access Euston Station and important medical facilities in the area.  He considered also that a westbound configuration would address issues relating to access to the Tavistock Hotel for black cabs, particularly for disabled and/or elderly guests or visitors using the tax rank outside its front entrance; would result in a smaller geographical spread of displaced traffic including fewer movements on unsuitable nearby local roads; and would be consistent with Camden’s Transport Strategy. 

It remains to be seen what action Camden Council will take in light of the inspector’s recommendations. 

Timothy Comyn appeared on behalf of the Imperial London Hotels Limited instructed by Karen Phull of Farrers Solicitors and Charles Forrest appeared on behalf of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association instructed by John Luckhurst. Both parties were objectors to the Traffic Order as proposed by Camden Council.

A copy of the inspector’s decision letter can be found here