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Shed for cargo bicycle refused permission in “Smarter Travel” town

— 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.”

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  1. From the photo it seems the shed is much bigger than would be needed to store the largest cargo bike, maybe a hinged cover closer in size to the bike would be acceptable. If I was living beside that shed I could imagine I would also see it as an unwelcome development depending on what view it might obstruct. You could be sure if it was approved then every shed erected in the county would suddenly be a bike shed.I would be surprised if the council would object to a metal bike enclosure more in keeping with the size of the bike. I hope the owner can sort something out, maybe by making the bike enclosure movable which might get around planning requirements.

  2. Ban all cars sitting around on roads and trucks in driveways and I’ll support the planning board in this case. Otherwise this is a nonsense. There’s a guy on a road not far from me that keeps his RV parked on the street. He always, ALWAYS keeps his driveway clear. Why is this complete eyesore and obstruction of the street allowed.

    As for this particular case in Mayo, there are bike sheds available, of metal construction that he could probably put at the front of his house. And if you can put one of those seomras in your garden as long as it’s not more than 25 square meters, then he should get a small one of those and use it for the bike (if affordable).

  3. Living in an apartment with shared parking. Apartment near us has 2x cars in the car park and then a big rusty transit van with flat tires and no tax/ins that they use as a shed! It is amazing what you can get away with once there are 4 wheels on it.

  4. One of the things people miss about Dutch cycling culture is that for years the planning regulations required dwellings to have bicycle storage. The same thing is needed here. Under the Galway City Development plan(s), developers are only required to provide bike parking if they are providing a certain level of car parking first. How that for priority?

  5. @Citizen Wolf,
    The exemption limit is 40 sq metres but only applies in back gardens and is subject to a number of restrictions. Looking at the photos in the article, I think I would be objecting too if my next door neighbour plonked a 20 ft container in his/her front garden. It looks as if the house owner, or previous owner, converted the garage at the side of the house to living space. Maybe they could consider reconverting it if having their cargo bike indoors is so important!

  6. Important to remember that planners look to protect the ‘grain’ and context of a streetscape but it totally escapes me why planning authorities allow 4x4s and work vans/trucks (Mr. Whippy, etc.) to be parked up in driveways and on streets outside residences all year round.
    As others have suggested the way to exploit this is to park a clapped-out van in the driveway and use it as a ‘shed’ but how do you get the cargo-bike into it?


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