— An Bord Pleanála said bicycle bunker is “a visually discordant feature”.
An Bord Pleanála has gone against its own planning inspector and rejected the retention of a 1.4-metre-tall bicycle bunker in a front garden in Clontarf.
Clontarf residents Vanessa and Brian Delaney had applied for the retention of the bicycle locker in their front garden on St Lawrence Rd but this was rejected by Dublin City Council planners. So the two took an appeal of the decision to An Bord Pleanála.
The case is one of two in Clontarf which were covered in a Dublin Inquirer article on front-of-house bicycle storage last month. At the time the newspaper said that An Bord Pleanála has not yet decided on the appeal, the result of that appeal has now been published.
The unit is of a similar size and shape to the bicycle bunkers which Dublin City Council and other councils are placing on streets to provide secure bicycle parking for residents without easy access to rear sheds or other lockups.
It is much smaller than some other front-of-house solutions which have fallen foul of planning enforcement, including much taller shed-like structures in also in Clontarf recently and one in a Westport driveway. The Westport example, for a cargo bike with a cover, was later replaced with a taller road-worthy trailer which cannot be subjected to planning enforcement.
With the bike bunker in Clontarf, Lorraine Dockery, a senior planning inspector at An Bord Pleanála, said: “An observation was received from Michael Curley, who is opposed to the proposed development. In summary, he considers that any change to the nature of the front garden area would be incompatible with the character, outline and view of other Protected Structures in the area and would result in a negative impact upon the amenity of adjoining properties.”
The planning inspector said that Curley considered the bicycle locker intrusive and obtrusive and feels that it would set a precedent for similar developments. He also considered the proposal to be unnecessary as applicants have a rear entrance to their house.
Nuada Mac Eoin, a conservation architect with MacEoin Architects working on behalf of the Delaneys, said in a letter to An Bord Pleanála: “They are all active cyclists, so there are four bicycles coming and going during the day. They use bicycles in preference to car. There is a shed at the bottom of the garden, giving access to the lane, but the fact that the laneway is unlit and unpaved, is a disincentive to the family members to use the lane to access the shed, particularly during the winter months.”
The letter adds: “Furthermore, some secured, locked, bicycles have been previously stolen from the shed, and this has discouraged our Clients from using this shed to store their bikes, resulting in their bringing the bicycles in through the front door, and parking them in one of the living rooms.”
The letter said that, when abroad, the Delaneys noted the use of bicycle stores in front gardens and on streets, and this struck them as an ideal solution for them. It also said that screening by planting was also planned before Dublin City Council took planning enforcement action.
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Dockery, the planning inspector, said: “I agree with the first party assertion [from the Delaneys] that the subject structure could be described as more of a bicycle box than a bicycle shed. It is a barrelled structure which can accommodate a maximum of four bicycles. It is not possible to stand upright within it and it has a maximum height of 1.4m (the main bulk of the structure is slightly less than this). It has a total floor area slightly in excess of 5m².”
“It is not unduly visible when viewed from the street and does not impact on the character or compromise the setting of the Protected Structure (No. 43) or any other Protected Structure within the vicinity to such an extent as to warrant a refusal of permission,” the planning inspector said. “It does not significantly impact on the character or setting of the Residential Conservation Area, given its limited height and setback from boundary, to warrant a refusal of permission.”
The inspector noted that screening with appropriate landscaping would negate any impacts further and that this matter could be dealt with by means of a planning condition.
“In my opinion, the provision of appropriate bicycle storage facilities in suitable locations should be accommodated in order to further encourage sustainable modes of transport and a move away from car-related travel,” said Dockery.
But last week, the Board rejected the appeal.
The Board Order, signed by board member Mary Henchy, said: “The retention of this unsympathetic intervention within the front curtilage of a protected structure would constitute a visually discordant feature that would be detrimental to the setting of the protected structure as well as to the amenity of adjoining protected structures and the local streetscape.”
“It is considered that the development proposed for retention would also contravene the zoning objective for the area “to protect and/or improve the amenities of residential conservation areas” and policy BHAZ2, as set out in the current Development Plan for the area, which requires development of protected structures to be sensitively sited and designed. The development proposed for retention would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” the Board Order.
The determination said: “In deciding not to accept the Inspector’s recommendation to grant permission, the Board did not agree with the Inspector that the bicycle store does not compromise the setting of the protected structure (Number 43 Saint Lawrence Road). In this regard the development is not in compliance with Policy BHA2 of the Dublin City Development Plan 2022 — 28, specifically paragraph (d) – Ensure that any development, modification, alteration, or extension affecting a protected structure and/or its setting is sensitively sited and designed, and is appropriate in terms of the proposed scale, mass, height, density, layout and materials.”
It added: “The Board also considers that the structure would not be in accordance with the zoning objective for the area – Residential Neighbourhoods (Conservation Area), ‘To protect and/or improve the amenities of residential conservation areas’. Furthermore, the Board considers that the structure to be retained would not respect the existing setting of the protected structure and character of the surrounding area due to its scale, positioning, layout, form, and materials of the structure.”