Battle of the bike sheds

From Brighton & Hove Independent

Kieran Barnard and his bicycle shed in Bates Road 

More than 20 families have been told to remove bike sheds from their front gardens, following a crackdown by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Terrace houses in Bates Road, Loder Road, Herbert Road and Balfour Road – all near Preston Park – have been sent letters by the planning department telling them they fall foul of planning laws and must be removed.

Kieran Barnard, who lives in Bates Road, was given 28 days to destroy his shed.

He said: “It is particularly disappointing and rather ironic that the Tour de France has just visited the UK and this would have been a fantastic opportunity for Brighton to take a lead in sustainable transportation.

“Instead, the council is making it more difficult to cycle. Our bike shed has been in place for years, is mostly hidden by a bush and we have had no complaints.

“We are a young family and we are trying to set an example to our children and encourage a healthy lifestyle.”

The move has been described as “hypocrisy” by Clarence Mitchell, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, who says it is at odds with the Green administration’s pro-cycling stance.

He says he has identified 21 households targeted by the council: “Instead of penalising residents in this blatant, politically contradictory way, the city council could be taking the lead in promoting the green policies its current administration so vocally advocates by leaving the bike sheds alone.

“We are therefore demanding that any current bike shed enforcement notices be indefinitely postponed while further talks take place to ensure the bike sheds stay.”

A council spokesperson said: “Generally, any structure or tall fence in a front garden needs planning permission.  These are not locally-decided policies, but national rules. There is no distinction in planning guidelines between a bike shed or any other shed.The reason for these guidelines is to prevent developments in front gardens ruining the general street scene.”

Caroline Lucas, the local Green MP, tweeted: “Am on the case – sounds very strange.”

In a statement later, she said: “I have contacted the local planning authority about the situation. On the face of things, the orders seem to me to be unreasonable and don’t sit well with all the positive measures the council is taking to promote cycling.  I hope the authority will delay enforcement so that the decisions can be reviewed.”