If there’s going to be a planning exemption for bicycle sheds: What size should be allowed?

Comment & Analysis: If there’s a planning exemption for bicycle sheds at the front of houses, what should be the maximum size allowed? The issue arises mainly when there’s no or difficult rear access to the back of houses.

Dublin City Council’s Bikebunker programme is focused on solving this issue on streets in and around the city centre, but the problems also exist in many suburban areas of towns and cities around the country where residents have front gardens but no easy rear access.

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Last year this website reported that the Department of Housing in Ireland are “exploring” planning exemption for bicycle storage in front of houses — the issue was prompted by successful planning complaints made against residents in at least Dublin, Cork and Westport who have some kind of bicycle storage in the front of their homes without planning permission.

There have also been one or two examples where planners said that bicycle sheds have been permitted to be retained. One of these cases includes adding screening, should this be a factor?

Some of the sheds are of various sizes and shapes. Readers on this website and others commented that some of the bicycle sheds look to be on the large side. But the other side of that coin is that larger cars, vans and trailers don’t need permission — including one person replacing their driveway shed with a much larger trailer.

All of this is happening at a time when the Government are supposed to be putting out all of the stops to promote the use of cycling. A question could also be asked of why bicycle storage should be to the rear when we park cars in front of buildings and all over our streets — if the bicycle is going to be promoted as an alternative to a car, it should be easier to choose the bicycle.

Our planning system is blind in many ways of how it’s not in line with our climate commitments, the drive to get people more active or our mobility plans.

In the meanwhile, the UK Government are proposing an exception as follows:

“These amendments would allow for modest development on a front elevation, therefore it may be necessary to include additional limitations on the size or materials of bin or bike stores to minimise visual and amenity impacts. We are proposing that bin and bike stores can only be constructed in front gardens if they are no more than 2 metres in width, 1 metre in depth and 1.5 metres in height.”

UK Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

What’s currently proposed in the UK seems spot on in terms of height but the depth and width seem not very accompanying of a household of bikes or a cargo bike and another bike.

These images are in the NTA Cycle Design Manual showing different sizes of bicycles. The cargo bike in the bottom left corner could be viewed as for business use, so, could be excluded for this.

This is a Bikehanger from UK company Cyclehoop — these and similar products are being installed on streets by councils (where they don’t need permission). So, why would they not be allowed in the driveway or garden of the average size of a house? Note: The relevant height is 1.33m (not the opening height).

The dimensions of the Bikehanger, or something close to it, seems like a reasonable compromise for allowing front-of-house storage and not being too large. Are there any other factors?


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7 comments

  1. The bottom left one would be close to a wheelchair carrying bike or a family 4 person trike so should be included.
    Other alternative is get an old van park it in driveway and declare off the road perfect bike bunker add a lifting ramp to inside the van door

    Reply
    • Presumably a horse box would also be allowed or anything on wheels really. Although the risk then would be the trailer and the bikes get stolen.

      Reply
      • I was recently refused planning permission for a front garden Bikehanger (as shown above) from Galway City Council even though there’s plenty of space in the garden.

        I’m now looking for a hot pink rusty old horse trailer. Ideally a model on bricks instead of wheels. I would finally have fully compliant Bike storage.

        Reply
    • I think anyone living in either private or rented accommodation should be allowed to install a shed for their bicycle (not just “a bicycle shed”) in any garden, unless in very exceptional circumstances. There is no logical opposition other than superficial snobbery from the Mrs Bouquet interfering neighbors.

      Reply
  2. The elephant outside the room here is that the city councils should be actually prioritising safety and convenience over aesthetics and actually encouraging people to store their bikes outside. This needs to happen immediately, as opposed to take a long time over a design that will ultimately be a compromise. For e-bikes (and e-scooters) with their lithium-ion batteries, indoor storage and safety is a concern. This is not just about cheap imports or conversion kits. Even ones from reputable/ certified sources can get damaged or overheat. Recommendations from battery manufacturers that batteries should be stored in (“uninhabited rooms” – ref #1 Bosch), the UK government recommends battery charging and storage should be located externally, e.g. in a shed, garage (ref #3 UK Government Feb 2024 Guidelines), and New York City have launched a pilot for charging batteries outdoors (ref #3). The NYC Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) recently attempted to completely ban tenants from storing e-bikes inside any of the 177,000 NYCHA apartments throughout NYC (ref #4). Also, reported this month, it has been revealed that some insurers have been declining cover for ebike shops (ref #5). Regulations alone will not fully mitigate this risk. As volumes increase, so will the impact to our society. The benefits of external storage, especially to front of dwellings extends beyond safety: such location will encourage more bike usage. The common denominator here is that we should all be pulling together to figure out better solutions to charging and storing externally; not looking for ways to compromise on the solution!

    References
    #1 https://www.bosch-ebike.com/fileadmin/EBC/Service/Downloads/Akku_Guide/Akku_Guide_MY21/Bosch-eBike-Batteryguide-MY21-EN.pdf?_=1605183846

    #2 New guidance just out from UK govt re ebike/battery safety (published Feb 1, 2024): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/battery-safety-for-e-cycle-users/battery-safety-for-e-cycle-users#disposing-of-a-lithium-e-cycle-battery

    #3 https://www.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/927-23/mayor-adams-launches-lithium-ion-battery-charging-pilot-delivery-workers-safely-charge-in#:~:text=%E2%80%9CIn%202023%2C%20at%20least%2018,with%20access%20to%20certified%20batteries.

    #4 Attempt to ban ebikes in NTC apartments: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/e-bikes-safety-standards-new-york-city-apartments

    #5 Insurance coverage withdrawn for ebike shops https://www.cyclingelectric.com/news/some-insurers-revealed-to-be-declining-cover-for-electric-bike-shops

    Reply

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