Brighton bike sheds fall foul of planning laws

Posted On 23 Jul 2014 at 6:44 am
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families in Withdean have been told to remove bike sheds from their front gardens following a crackdown by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Terraced houses in Bates Road have been sent letters by the planning department telling them they fall foul of planning laws and must be removed.

Kieran Barnard's shed

Kieran Barnard’s shed

Kieran Barnard was given 28 days to destroy his shed, pictured, on July 3.

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.  We are using our bikes far more than before we had a bike store.”

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

He says he and his team of canvassers have identified 21 households in Bates Road, and nearby Loder Road, Herbert Road and Balfour Road which have similar sheds.

Raising the issue in his blog, he said: “Instead of penalising residents in this blatant, politically contradictory, way, BHCC could be taking the lead in promoting the green policies its current administration so vocally advocates by leaving the bike sheds alone.”

He added: “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.”

And he later told Brighton and Hove News that a yearly inspection to ensure the sheds were being used to store bikes could be an acceptable condition of planning consent.

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.

“Guidelines for back gardens do tend to allow sheds but anyone considering building one should check with their local council planning department.”

This story was edited on 4 August, 2014, to amend the number of houses sent enforcement letters from 21 to two.

  1. Tom Atkins Reply

    The council’s spokesperson is being disingenuous in stating that they are only following national guidelines.

    We received a similar letter over a year ago. We attempted twice to apply for planning permission and it was denied to us as in the judgement of the officer it was detrimental to the street scene, a nonsensical argument if nothing else. Most of these sheds have been here for years without comment.

    They are not reluctantly following national rules here, they are actively targeting people. My suspicion is that they have targets of numbers of actions to take, and people like us represent low hanging fruit.

    There is a complete lack of sanity being shown by the Council in this matter.

  2. Tom Atkins Reply

    The council’s spokesperson is being disingenuous in stating that they are only following national guidelines.

    We received a similar letter over a year ago. We attempted twice to apply for planning permission and it was denied to us as in the judgement of the officer it was detrimental to the street scene, a nonsensical argument if nothing else. Most of these sheds have been here for years without comment.

    They are not reluctantly following national rules here, they are actively targeting people. My suspicion is that they have targets of numbers of actions to take, and people like us represent low hanging fruit.

    There is a complete lack of sanity being shown by the Council in this matter.

  3. Jacob Reply

    This does seem a bit disappointing.
    My neighbours can put up a monstrosity of an extension in their back garden, that looks like a Brazilian shanty town due to the change in planning permission laws but these poor people are not allowed a safe place to store their sustainable transport?!

  4. Jacob Reply

    This does seem a bit disappointing.
    My neighbours can put up a monstrosity of an extension in their back garden, that looks like a Brazilian shanty town due to the change in planning permission laws but these poor people are not allowed a safe place to store their sustainable transport?!

  5. David Shimmans Reply

    Give Ian Davey a ring………he’s managed to wing all the other Transport Measures we didn’t need! This should be a walk or cycle in the park!

  6. David Shimmans Reply

    Give Ian Davey a ring………he’s managed to wing all the other Transport Measures we didn’t need! This should be a walk or cycle in the park!

  7. Lance Reply

    I really like Kieran Barnard’s Shed, and his bird table.

    I wonder if there would be such a crackdown if the bike shed happened to turn into a dog kennel?

  8. Lance Reply

    I really like Kieran Barnard’s Shed, and his bird table.

    I wonder if there would be such a crackdown if the bike shed happened to turn into a dog kennel?

  9. Anne Reply

    How ridiculous!! Are these young families supposed to leave their bikes in the back garden and then carry them through the house when they want to use them? Maybe the planning department would prefer them to be left in the front garden covered with grubby tarpaulins. Surely they must have more important issues to occupy their time!!!!

  10. Anne Reply

    How ridiculous!! Are these young families supposed to leave their bikes in the back garden and then carry them through the house when they want to use them? Maybe the planning department would prefer them to be left in the front garden covered with grubby tarpaulins. Surely they must have more important issues to occupy their time!!!!

  11. Tim Thomas Reply

    We have also received a notification to take our bide shed down, and totally agree with the comments. We live in a terraced house and the shed allows us to use our bikes for work without having to keep it in the house, or take it through the house daily. Without the use of a bike we might have to have a car. There have been no complaints from neighbours, and you would think that Brighton and Hove Council would support people using bikes as part of their green agenda. If they wish to enforce this with us, and the 20 other who have received notices, they will need to be doing this throughout the City, and I imagine there are hundreds if not thousands of bike sheds.

  12. Tim Thomas Reply

    We have also received a notification to take our bide shed down, and totally agree with the comments. We live in a terraced house and the shed allows us to use our bikes for work without having to keep it in the house, or take it through the house daily. Without the use of a bike we might have to have a car. There have been no complaints from neighbours, and you would think that Brighton and Hove Council would support people using bikes as part of their green agenda. If they wish to enforce this with us, and the 20 other who have received notices, they will need to be doing this throughout the City, and I imagine there are hundreds if not thousands of bike sheds.

  13. Truth Teller Reply

    All smells a bit if politics to me.

    Likely as not the Planning Department have recieved either a volley of complaints from a single irked individual or party; or tried have organised a clamp down on an issue. I very much doubt it is the latter given that the Council has not indicated it’s a problem, the stretched public purse and scarce resources in planning these days.

    So why these local politicians feel the need to make political capital out of something the Council is probably duty bound to respond to is pure opportunism. I’d bet more than a few of these sheds would probably get planning permission if their owners applied. It’s seems pointless moaning about national planning regulations at the local level. If it’s as harmless as it seems apply to keep it or test whether the planning department think it in the public interest to serve papers and prosecute.

  14. Truth Teller Reply

    All smells a bit if politics to me.

    Likely as not the Planning Department have recieved either a volley of complaints from a single irked individual or party; or tried have organised a clamp down on an issue. I very much doubt it is the latter given that the Council has not indicated it’s a problem, the stretched public purse and scarce resources in planning these days.

    So why these local politicians feel the need to make political capital out of something the Council is probably duty bound to respond to is pure opportunism. I’d bet more than a few of these sheds would probably get planning permission if their owners applied. It’s seems pointless moaning about national planning regulations at the local level. If it’s as harmless as it seems apply to keep it or test whether the planning department think it in the public interest to serve papers and prosecute.

  15. Tom Atkins Reply

    Appreciate you might think that, but I’ve put in two planning applications already, both of which have been refused. So the idea that they’d probably approve it if you applied isn’t supported by the evidence of those who’ve applied so far.

    Besides, have you ever tried to submit a planning application without professional help? It’s a nightmare. We had to draw up site plans, technical elevations, submit a document explaining which planning policies it is in compliance with and pay a fee of £172. (That’s not a typo. £172. For a small bike shed). Why should householders have to go through that for such an innocent structure?

    The council could quite easily decided not to enforce this supposedly incontrovertible national legislation – given that it hasn’t done for years, and that other councils don’t appear to be doing it that I’m aware of. They could have decided that it was not a sensible use of the council’s resources, but they didn’t. Instead, they have decided to pursue this to the fullest extent possible. If an administration can’t deal with a situation like this, then it deserves to have its opponents call them to account, whatever side of the political spectrum they’re on.

  16. Tom Atkins Reply

    Appreciate you might think that, but I’ve put in two planning applications already, both of which have been refused. So the idea that they’d probably approve it if you applied isn’t supported by the evidence of those who’ve applied so far.

    Besides, have you ever tried to submit a planning application without professional help? It’s a nightmare. We had to draw up site plans, technical elevations, submit a document explaining which planning policies it is in compliance with and pay a fee of £172. (That’s not a typo. £172. For a small bike shed). Why should householders have to go through that for such an innocent structure?

    The council could quite easily decided not to enforce this supposedly incontrovertible national legislation – given that it hasn’t done for years, and that other councils don’t appear to be doing it that I’m aware of. They could have decided that it was not a sensible use of the council’s resources, but they didn’t. Instead, they have decided to pursue this to the fullest extent possible. If an administration can’t deal with a situation like this, then it deserves to have its opponents call them to account, whatever side of the political spectrum they’re on.

  17. xe Reply

    “… to prevent developments in front gardens ruining the general street scene”

    Ruining the coastal scene from Worthing to Newhaven with 175 wind turbines is perfectly acceptable, of course.

  18. xe Reply

    “… to prevent developments in front gardens ruining the general street scene”

    Ruining the coastal scene from Worthing to Newhaven with 175 wind turbines is perfectly acceptable, of course.

  19. John Flood-Paddock Reply

    Ruining the general street scene with wheeled bins and overflowing recycling boxes left out all the time is acceptable of course

    Most of my neighbours leave their wheeled bin in the front garden all the time because they do not want to wheel it through their carpeted hall into the back garden

    Whoever thought wheeled bins are a good idea for terraced houses is an idiot

    He or she is probably a councillor or council officer with side access to their back garden

    Let’s not think about which party he or she is with

    Next : what if I want to build a wooden structure in my front garden to conceal my wheeled bin – do I need planning permission for that ? And pay the council £172 ?

    Can’t help thinking this is the thin end of another cash cow – how many bike sheds and dustbin cupboards are then in Brighton & Hove I wonder

  20. Annoyed at Planning Reply

    Surprised anyone has managed to communicate with planning as they will not respond to my emails, except to email back that I must communicate by phone, but I can not ring during my working day (which is longer than their 9:30-16:30) and they wont answer the phone during lunch, and I have tried between 12 and 14:00! Mind you I emailed them that I was querying my neighbours intrusive attic conversion, which as far as I can find out has no planning permission. But planning are obviously too busy with bike sheds, which are probably not an eyesore, blocking light, invading privacy or creating flat roofs ideal for sea gulls. Anybody got a phone number for planning that is answered before 9:30 or after 16:30 or during lunch time? As the only one they will give 01273 292222 me is useless if you work where you can’t use a phone.

  21. Truth Teller Reply

    My point I suppose was that you can hardly blame the Council if you build something without planning permission and fall foul of national regulations. If I get a speeding ticket or parking fine generally it’s because I was speeding or parked illegally. Of they are issued wrongly I can appeal, like in Planning. I don’t really see how this is any different except people think it’s a matter of taste.

    If someone complains or if these things look ugly the Council should be looking at it. Far be it for me to make judgement, but I hardly think it’s the Council’s fault they are forced or statutorily bound to deal with it, seems to me that it’s the fault of the owners lack of storage rather than the planners. After all I’d imagine most I the houses affected were bought before the bike stores were built.

    Obviously £170 is a great deal of money for a little shed. But having just looked, these are nationally set fees and I doubt that by the time Council’s have employed people to deal with the applications and covered admin and consumables costs that they would make any profit. In fact I would imagine they make a loss with the cost of newspaper adverts, printing and wages alone.

  22. Mark Reply

    I wonder if it’s time to review the ‘outbuilding policy’? I doubt a load of bikes chained to a wall would look more appealing, though they would be legal till they got stolen!

  23. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Why is the bike shed in the photo painted bright blue? It makes of it an overly prominant feature. It may be that it could be designed abd situated more sensitively. Planning Officers are available to provide free pre-planning advice and have any if thise wose applucations failed asked for that advice?

  24. Paul Perrin (@pperrin) Reply

    With budget cuts looming, some lazy sods in the counci are finally gettiing off their arses and doing some work for the huge sums we pay them.

    Unfortunately its ‘work’ that doesn’t really matter and they should have been ‘cut’ long ago.

  25. @theplanorak Reply

    Instead of chasing householders like this and hoping they’ll either take down the bike sheds or apply for planning permission, the Council should be preparing a Local Development Order. This would grant planning permission across large swathes of the city (except maybe Conservation Areas) subject to controls over number, size and siting of the sheds.

    A simple Design Code could guide householders and they could pay a small fee for a quick confirmation that their shed is within the limits set out in the LDO.

    This would help boost the admirable increase in cycling in the City.

  26. Emmi Reply

    I thought that if something has been constructed “illegally”, if it has been in place for more than 4 years, then the council cannot enforce a demolition notice. At least this used to be the case. Something to look into.

    What an absolute farce this is. The bike shed is harmless, not obstructing anything or anybody, perfectly acceptable in my view.

  27. Miriam Goodwin Reply

    Would the council object if the sheds had green roofs?

  28. Green Transport Planner Reply

    Councillors and planning officers have discretion in these matters. For some reason either a councillor, or p(r)etty senior council officer has got a bee in their bonnet.

    It is my understanding that if the structure has been there for 4 years and you can prove it, you are able to seek a “Lawful Development Certificate” from the Local Planning Authority (LPA). If you have good evidence, I don’t think that they can legally refuse. Evidence might also take the form of photos, receipts from the installer, witness statements from neighbours etc..

    If you apply for planning retrospectively and the LPA refuse, you can also appeal against any refusal of planning consent to the “Planning Inspectorate” and in some instances seek costs against the council.

    If you appeal, stress the benefits of sustainable transport, find some other places locally with authorised cycle stores in the front of properties and mention all the other junk cluttering up the local street scene. Look for local planning policies in the “Adopted Local Plan” which promote sustainable transport and cycling. E.g. “Policy TR14 Cycle access and parking”.

    I accept no libability if this advice is wrong, use it at your own risk, but good luck!

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