— Dublin City Council said bicycle locker in a front garden is “significant visual clutter”.
— Councillors call decision “insane” and “ridiculous”, and vow to change rules.
Dublin City Council’s planning enforcement section has ruled against a bicycle storage unit in a front garden in Clontarf despite the council installing slightly larger Bike Bunkers on streets around the city for residents who don’t have easy access to storage at the rear of their houses.
According to The Sunday Times, the owners of a house on St Lawrence Road, Vanessa Pearse and her husband Brian Delaney have applied to retain the storage structure after a planning complaint was made. Dublin City Council ruled against the couple’s storage unit, and they are now appealing that decision to An Bord Pleanala.
As reported by IrishCycle.com in 2017, the placement of a larger shed for a family’s electric cargo bicycle in a driveway in Westport in Co Mayo was refused permission by An Bord Pleanála.
In that case, a neighbour also made a planning complaint and Mayo County Council rejected an application for retention. The owner — who also did not have easy access to the rear of his house — appealed the case to An Bord Pleanála, but the planning board went against its own inspector and refused permission for the retention of the shed.
The owner in Westport, Gerard Kenny, told this website at the time that he was told by a council planner that they could do nothing about a van or trailer once it was roadworthy. He eventually bought a trailer to store the cargo bike. That’s not an option in the Clontarf case where there’s no existing driveway.
In Clontarf, the storage unit is much smaller at 1.6m wide by 2.4m long by 1.4m and fits the four bicycles. It is a similar shape to and size of the council’s Bike Bunkers, although is plastic rather than steel.
Four people in the household cycle regularly and the owners said the access to the rear of the terrace house — via laneways — is narrow, dark at night and unpaved.
Pearse told the Sunday Times: “We have a back lane but it’s unlit and isn’t paved, so it’s dangerous, particularly at night. We’ve always brought the bikes through the house so this was a practical solution. I can’t understand the council’s logic. Bikes were around in Victorian times too.”
She said it didn’t make sense for one part of the council to be investing millions in cycle routes to the area while another part was making it inconvenient for people to access their bicycles.
According to the planning file, Niamh Kiernan, an acting senior executive architectural conservation officer with Dublin City Council said that the bike store amounts to “significant visual clutter”.
Kiernan wrote: “The unauthorised erection of unsympathetic interventions comprising the bike storage unit and the structural base for this bike store, along with an existing bin store, and together with the proposal to construct a new gravel access path to this bike storage unit, has cumulatively
introduced significant visual clutter to the front garden of the Protected Structure, causing serious injury to its setting and amenity as well as the setting and amenity of immediately adjoining Protected Structures.”
She added that this would “therefore contravene Section 13.4.4 of the Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines 2011 and Policy CHC2 (d) of the Dublin City Council Development Plan 2016-2022, and would set an unacceptable and undesirable precedent.”
Cllr Catherine Stocker (Social Democrats), her party’s group leader on the council, said: “This is an insane decision and I hope is overturned by ABP. We cannot talk out of one side of our mouths about encouraging cycling and then ban a (perfectly lovely) small bike shelter.”
She added: “Will be working on adding some amendments to the new development plan to prevent similar planning decisions in future.”
Cllr Donna Cooney (Green Party), a local councillor, said that the planning ruling was “ridiculous”.
She said: “I did offer to put in a submission in support but they were hopefully it would get through. Will put in motion to city development plan to favour bicycle hangers even by protected structures they can be unobtrusive. This green one, hardly notice it with some planting.”
Cllr Joan Hopkins (Social Democrats), who represents the Fingal area of Howth-Malahide, said: “Your bike should be convenient to use, ie outside your front door. DCC need to reverse this ASAP. I find giant red bins and giant Range Rovers outside my door undesirable but you don’t hear me complain!”
According to the planning file, Michael Curley, a resident of the street, objected to the retention of the unit. He called the bicycle storage unit a “non essential construction” which is “out of character with the established pattern of residential development”.
He said: The proposed structure in a residential area such as this will present a negative impact
upon the amenity of adjoining houses and gardens. The destructive impact would also create a very confusing relationship to other properties which are maintained by me and other residents in line with current guidelines. To allow such a development to proceed would contradict the current regulations and objectives underlined by the Protected Structures Act.”
Curley said that under current protected structures guidelines driveways in front gardens of these
properties are not permitted. He said that the storage structure has “the same unsympathetic impact on the architectural heritage I as a resident so richly cherish”.
He said permission for such “an intrusive development” will set “a regrettable precedent for similar
Curley added: “Any change in the nature of the front garden… would be incompatible with the outline, character, and visual aspect of all other protected structures of which my property is included. I endeavour to present and maintain my property in line with current Conservation Area guidelines and must protest that any exception would be a particularly galling and unjust outcome.”