— Council told bicycle owner that a van would be ok in same location as shed.
An Bord Pleanála went against its own inspector and refused permission for a shed for a family’s electric cargo bicycle in one of Ireland’s “Smarter Travel” towns, which are supposed to be exemplars for the promotion of cycling.
The shed is in the front driveway of a housing estate along the Great Western Greenway in Westport, Co Mayo. The owner, Gerard Kenny, said that the Urban Arrow cargo bicycle will not fit down the narrow side lane access to the rear of the house and the a tarpaulin cover is not practical or effective.
Kenny said: “When our second child was born, in 2015, we upgraded our means of transportation to a family electric bike, the only way to remain sustainable and transport the children in a safe and dry manner.” His housing estate is up a hill from Westport town centre and the west of Ireland suffers from more rain than most of the country.
He planted evergreens along the boundary wall to soften the view of the shed and offered to the planing bodies to reduce the height of the shed.
Kenny claims that a Mayo County Council official told him that they would have no problem with keeping a van of the same size as the shed “as long as it was not within end of life”, so it would have to be roadworthy.
A complaint from neighbours to the council, under the name of Kieran Caine, chairman of the Carrowbeg Estate Residence Committee, said: “Construction of this shed puts an undesirable precedence, which could be a replicated throughout the county. Effect of such a development on neighbouring property would be adverse (valuable effect).
Kenny received enforcement notices from the council. He applied to retain the shed and when the council refused permission in January of this year he appealed the issue to An Bord Pleanála.
The An Bord Pleanála inspector had recommended approving permission to retain the shed on the condition that it be reduced in height by 200mm and that the permission is only given for a period of 5 years, as this is the lifetime of the bicycle required by the family.
But in deciding not to accept its planning inspector’s recommendation, in May of this year, An Bord Pleanála said: “The proposed retention infringes on the existing building line and constitutes a sub-standard form of development, the retention of which would, both by itself and the precedent such a retention would set, impact negatively on the existing character and residential amenity of the area and would depreciate the value of property in the vicinity. The proposed retention would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”