The O’Regan family applied for the retention of a timber-clad bicycle and wheelie bin storage shed with a green roof, which they installed in 2020, but Cork City Council are the latest planning authority to reject the placement of a bicycle shed in a front driveway, after similar planning decisions in Dublin and Co Mayo.
As reported in July, after cross-party political pressure and media attention, officials at the Department of Housing are now examining the issue of a planning exemption for bicycle storage at front of houses. There have been a number of cases of rejections of similar structures in Dublin and one in Westport where the owner replaced the shed with a road-worthy trailer which is not subject to planning laws.
It is understood that Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, intends to issue regulations exempting bicycle sheds at the front of houses. The exact details are yet unknown.
In the case in Cork, Denis O’Regan said that the shed, in front of their house in the Ballintemple suburb of the city, is to accommodate their bins and the bikes used by himself, his partner and their children. He plans to appeal the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála.
The custom-built shed is built to account for the sloping driveway so it has a height ranging from 1.8m to 1.6m with a floor area of approximately 5.3 square metres.
“Climate and biodiversity emergencies have been declared with various calls to action along the way. Most recently by the Lord Mayor. Two-thirds of greenhouse gases in Cork City come from home and transport,” he said.
O’Regan said that bicycles are now larger with “more expensive with electric cargo bikes now a regular sight in Cork City” but he said: “Unfortunately planning policy has not kept pace with the people who are committed to making a change.”
Planners in Cork City Council said that the shed would “detract from the residential amenities of the main house and adjoining properties by way of visual clutter”, but O’Regan said that the improves the look of the front of the house by concealing the bikes and waste bins, that the blackened larch cladding is in keeping with the dark render behind it on their house, and a sedum green flat roof helps to reduce rainwater run-off and improve biodiversity.
O’Regan told IrishCycle.com that bicycle storage at the front of houses should be seen as completing many of the objectives in the Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028, a document which is supposed to shape planning in the city.
The City Development Plan includes objectives to support the delivery of a 15-Minute City, support the delivery of a lower carbon and sustainable city, promote green roofs and even the plan even has a provision which states that “It is important that cycle storage areas are designed to encourage cycle use by being
convenient and ergonomic.”
But after a planning complaint, made by a neighbour, planners in Cork City Council rejected the application for retention.
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In the council’s Planning Report, Alan Swanwick, an assistant planner with Cork City Council said: “Having regard to the pattern of development in the area, it is considered that the development for retention by reason of its scale and height and location to the front of the dwelling constitutes visual clutter. The development represents a disorderly form of development which would have a negative visual impact on the character of the area.”
The decision was also affirmed by Lucy Teehan, a senior executive planner and Fiona Redmond, a senior planner.
In the reasoning section, the Planning Report said: “The development would also set an undesirable precedent for similar future developments in the area and would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
But on that last point, O’Regan points to a previous precedent, in 2011 in Cork City, where planners granted permission to a bike shed in a front garden in the Sundays Well Road area of Cork subject to screening around the unit. He said that, as in that case, planners could have requested screening works be undertaken.
CORRECTION: This article originally included the line “O’Regan said that the structure is lower than the allowable height of a boundary fence or wall.” At the front of a house exempt height of a boundary wall is 1.2m, the 2m exemption only applies to the side and rear of a house. So, the line was removed from the article.