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Siobhan Kelly was surprised to get a letter from Dublin City Council telling her she had to remove the secure, covered bike storage she’d put in her front garden.
“This is just bananas,” said Kelly, who lives in a house in Clontarf.
She and her 14-year-old son both cycle. He uses his bike for everything, she says, and she uses hers often to visit her mother in a care home on Griffith Avenue.
“It’s kind of good for that and it means I’m using the car less and less petrol and all that kind of stuff,” she says.
At both national and local levels, there are government policies pushing people to use their cars less and walk, cycle or take public transport more – to reduce traffic, pollution, and carbon emissions, given the climate crisis.
“How can you expect people to make that change? They need to have somewhere safe and secure and convenient to be able to store their bicycles in order to use bicycles,” says Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney.
Yet, the council’s own efforts to provide people a safe place to park their bikes near their homes have stalled.
The council started testing secure, covered “bike bunkers”, where residents could rent spaces as far back as 2014. For years, a plan to roll out 350 of them was coming soon. Now it looks like that’s delayed indefinitely.
Meanwhile, given what Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam recently called the council’s “absolute failure to advance the scheme”, residents like Kelly have been making their own private arrangements.
“We need the bike lockers,” Kelly says. “I mean if it’s on somebody’s, you know, within their own boundary, what is the problem?”
Siobhan Kelly’s Story
Kelly said she and her son wanted a convenient place to store their bikes, as well as a wheelchair and zimmer frame for when she brings her mother home to visit from the care home.
“They would definitely be robbed. I mean, we live in Clontarf, so it’s a nice area and everything, but still,” she said.
So she researched the planning regulations and asked the council about them and concluded that she could put secure bike storage in her front garden without applying for planning permission.
After all, she says, other people up and down the estate have various structures in their front gardens. So why can’t she?
Then, in a 10 January letter, the council wrote to her, saying they’d heard about “unauthorised development” on her property and were looking into it. “It is alleged that a shed has been erected in the front garden,” the letter says.
They wrote again on 27 March to say they’d concluded she’d broken the planning rules and has to remove the bike storage – they call it a shed, she says it’s a temporary bicycle storage locker – by 30 June.
The letter also said she was required to pay the cost of their investigation, and included a page detailing the possible consequences of being convicted of a planning offence, such as a fine of up to €12,697,380 or “imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years”.
Kelly replied to the council in an 11 April letter. “The threats of costs, legal costs, fines and imprisonment are beyond what could be considered reasonable even if your notice was correct.”
“Such storage lockers are present in every other front garden across the city and county. Therefore how could my storage locker be offending when all of these others are present and plain to see?” she wrote.
Feeling singled out for punishment, Kelly submitted complaints to the council about structures in other people’s front yards.
In fact, she submitted 107 complaints about “structures of various sizes, designs and locations, sited to the front of residential properties in the Dublin 3 area”, says an email from a council planning enforcement manager to her on 25 April.
The council decided these were “vexatious”, declining to pursue any of them, the letter said. But it’s still pursuing the complaint against Kelly.
Councillors Pushing for Change
At a meeting of the council’s planning committee on 27 April, Cooney, the Green Party councillor, proposed a motion to support the use of front-garden bike shelters.
Since council policy and the city development plan favour the use of “active transport”, meaning cycling and walking, “for a healthy city, a sustainable city and for climate action”, more citywide bike parking is needed too, it says.
So the council should “find a way to facilitate through planning, more citywide secure bike parking, through exempted development”, meaning it wouldn’t require planning permission, “in change of use of buildings for indoor bike parking and the use of design guided bike bunker/bike shelters in front gardens”.
Since the council hasn’t rolled out the planned bike bunker programme, it should make it easier for people to put in their own secure, covered bike parking in their front gardens, she said.
After all, Cooney said Monday on the phone, “they’re allowing six carports and like home gyms at the front of people’s houses”. The council’s planning rules in this case are working against its climate-action policies, she said.
It’s not the council’s fault, Deputy City Planning Officer Deirdre Scully said at the recent planning committee meeting.
“The problem for us as a planning authority, is that at the moment the regulations are very strict about what goes in front of the house, which doesn’t give us a lot of scope in interpretation of the regulations,” she said.
Allowing front-garden bike lockers would require changes to national planning law, Scully said. She suggested the committee write to the minister.
The committee supported Cooney’s motion and decided to do just that.
But Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey said the issue shouldn’t require national legislation.
“This notion that, you know, the mandarins in the Custom House will decide how I park my bike, it’s just stupid,” Lacey said. “These are decisions that should be made at a local level, that we can work out – we have great planners in Dublin City Council.”
Fine Gael Councillor Naoise Ó Muiri, who also has been raising the issue, said by phone Monday that the council should just handle the issue itself.
“It seems that everybody’s pointing somewhere else. It seems to be talking about central government and, you know, the current environment in terms of regulations,” he said.
“I think we should just vary the development plan and make it clear that we support those bike boxes,” said Ó Muiri
Beyond Bike Lockers
Not everyone, though, has a front garden to put a bike box or locker or whatever into.
Darran Lovely, for example, lives in a terraced house in Drumcondra and doesn’t have a place to put one on his property, he says.
So he’s thinking of organising some of his neighbours and together installing a large shared bike locker in a street parking spot around the corner, which isn’t paid parking, and isn’t in front of anyone’s house.
“At the moment I have to bring it [his bike] in my front door, into the hall, into the living room and kind of stick it under the stairs,” he says. “So it’s not ideal.”
He said he got really excited when he saw the pilot project years ago to try out bike bunkers. “It’s such a simple solution to, you know, one of our climate targets, you know, getting more bikes on the road, getting more cars off.”
He got a group of people together to apply for one, but the council didn’t pick them. “I think they only had about 12 for the whole city,” he said.
This was followed by a council announcement that they would roll out 350 of them across the city – and a call for further applications.
But at the council’s April monthly meeting, Patricia Reidy, a senior engineer with Dublin City Council, said that the council is no longer sure about whether it will roll out the bike bunkers at all. “The scheme itself is being reviewed.”
The council has not explained the apparent shift in policy, and has not replied to a query about it sent Monday. “We have been trying to find out what’s going on and we’re not getting anywhere,” said Cooney, the Green Party councillor. “It’s very frustrating.”
Lovely is now mulling over whether to take matters into his own hands. “I mean, I’m obviously quite hesitant to actually go ahead and do this because this is illegal at the moment. You don’t want to invest in something that could get taken away,” he said.
But he’s frustrated with waiting and doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be able to do it himself, if the council’s not going to.
When he gutted and renovated his house, they put a port-a-loo in a street parking spot for nine months for the people doing the work to use, and that was no problem, Lovely says. And a bike bunker’s a lot nicer thing to have there than a toilet, he says.
“My next step is just to see whether there’s any action from DCC [Dublin City Council], whether they come out with some specific plan over the next few weeks,” he said.
Darran Lovely’s sister, Andrea Lovely, who shares the house with him, says she’d bring her bike up from their parents’ house if there was a good place to keep it at theirs.
“I often end up taking the bus or driving rather than hopping on a bike which in many cases would be much faster as well as healthier and better for the environment,” she says.
For the Rest
Bike boxes and lockers and bunkers are expensive, costing, depending on the model, from several hundred euro to several thousand. Many don’t have the cash for that.
So, says Ó Muiri, the Fine Gael councillor, why not expand the cycle-to-work scheme to cover them? “No reason why we couldn’t look at expanding that to contain storage.”
Under the scheme, an employer can buy a bike and their employee can pay it back over time at a discount thanks to tax relief.
What about those who don’t have space, or don’t have an employer to help them take advantage of a new safe-cycle-storage scheme?
What if everyone were within very short walking distance of a shared bike? Cooney suggests.
“I can come out the door and there’s bikes for hire at a very low cost, you know, even subsidised for those on a low income,” she says. “So you don’t even have to own a bicycle yourself.”
Whatever the solutions, they should be brought in swiftly, unlike the council’s bike bunker programme, Cooney says.
That solution was piloted nearly a decade ago, and has only scaled up from idea to 12 bunkers over that time.
“We all are in a climate crisis and we need to start acting like we’re in a crisis. And we don’t have long to do these things,” Cooney says.
UPDATE: This article was updated at 13.38 on 17 May to include another photo of Siobhan Kelly’s front garden with the bike storage.
In correspondence forwarded to me from Cian O’Callaghan TD, written to him by DCC regarding my specific case, DCC offered solutions covered in the planning rules that allows for the bike storage units. Why not apply them to this matter without delay?
Clearly not a bike shed and a weak argument to try and bend the rules. Most neighbours make an effort to get on with each other and placing something like this in your front garden is clearly going to cause frustrations. As a matter of interest, I wonder did and Kelly consult with her neighbours before it was erected?
Brave lady and looks like you’ve rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. An unusual looking bike shed for sure!
Building cycle lanes. But thinking about bike storage or cleaning the cycle lanes is not the council job anymore. And these people are paid to work for us ….
No it’s not ‘bananas’. Your contraption is fugly and I’m not surprised neighbours would complain. I would. Put your random stuff in your back garden!
That is a shed, not a bicycle locker and it’s well over 2 metres high. There are lower level bike sheds on the market that could sit discreetly behind a hedge, but they may not fit a lawnmower along with the bikes.
Agree for semi-detached or detached houses. For terraced houses, we need laneways, which have often been converted to gardens or car parking or blocked off.
Councillors are paid well and should be providing gva service to the community. If they planned these bike bunkets and didn’t proceed as planned why are they not accountable. It seems that nobody is accountable in this country. Politicians, Civil Servants, government departments. Its a disgrace.
Proper order… That’s a shed not a bike locker.
If you want a shed put it at the back of your house.
Buy an old van to use a bike locker… until somebody objects to that too…
I notice it’s blocking out light from her neighbours window which isn’t right why doesent she put it in front of her converted garage and when she was converting it why didn’t she allow a slight path to back garden where she could put her bike and lawnmower SHE sounds like a neighbour from hell Glad I am not her neighbours and if I was I would object too ,if she had a horse would she have a stable in the front garden even if it was a shed like her portable. Shed and why couldn’t she keep her mams stuff in her spare room ie former garage SHE should be forced to take it down and if she wants put a small one the height of her neighbour wall
Had she not converted the garage into a room without leaving access to the back garden, there wouldn’t have been the necessity to put the shed in the front garden in the first place.
People whinging about how it looks, but she could buy an old knackered van and use that as a bike locker instead. Would that somehow look better?
If Ms Kelly removed the pitched roof,and lowering it to the same height of the neighbours existing fence,
It’s grands can’t see the fuss, on the opposite side you should put up a canopy with table and chairs and a barbecue grill and your sorted
It’s a good thing there are planning laws to eliminate eye-sores like this being erected in front gardens. It’s clearly a garden shed. Bike storage units do not stretch to such heights. No wonder the local neighbours raised observations, don’t blame them at all.
Lisa, look at the other picture where she’s not standing in front of it and think again
This is nothing to do with “bicycle storage” or “anti-bicyle” but someone trying to politicise something thats clearly a huge ugly steel shed. Look at the picture the roof is twice the height if the bicycle. She is not being singled out. I have a proper low bicycle storage in the front of my house. I paid handsomly for it. Its not some cheapo shed from vitalxl. Stop trying to be a victim and a Karen . This lady clearly knows she is in breach of the regularions and has an eyesore innthe front of her house. If she doesnt she is thick. I would hate to be her neighbour.
Those whingeing here need a reality check. The image taken from the road shows that this shed is barely noticeable. It isn’t an eyesore, it isn’t blocking anyone’s light or view, and it certainly doesn’t ruin the neighborhood.
Whomever made that complaint is a bitter and foolish person. I pity them and suggest therapy.
100% agree. I’d put a high roof rusty van there and balls to the complaints.
Not true at all. Many neighbors who know this road including myself have walked by and verified the shed is large and unsightly. The photo doesn’t lie.
You could always unconvert the garage/garden room with the french doors. Or why not just wheel the bikes in through the french doors and store them in your back garden
Great idea for bike storage,
Don’t give in and fight it!
It’s all down to snobbery, why don’t people mind their own business , worry about it when she looks to put it in their garden. Live and let live.
Also a good point.
Put wheels in it
This is clearly a sympathy “poor me” card as the woman in question knows what she has in her front garden is a “back garden shed” and NOT a bicycle shed! Absolutely outrageous for someone to even think that should be allowed. Plus she’s a lawnmower in it as well as bikes.. obviously using it for other purposes!!!
So what? What is the problem? It’s neat & tidy, on her own property. But out.
Ms Kelly needs a reality check. Don’t envy the neighbours looking at that yolk every day. Horrendous.
Well Done Siobhan, definitely sounds like the council and your neighbours have it in for you!
Don’t let them single you out.
It’s her garden, feck off
This is all very odd. Clearly this is a shed and pitches at at least 7 feet which is an eyesore. If you zoom in you can see it’s being used as a shed. Bike lockers are way smaller than this. I am sure if she puts in a locker and not an eye sore it would be accepted. What is quite bizarre is that the lady wandered around Clontarf and put in 107 separate complaints against her neighbors instead of simply complying with the ordinance and putting in a bike locker. Looks like a bit of attention seeking and something not quite right.
Glad I’m not her neighbour.
Do neighbours look at that? Really? My God, when did we become so pathetic that a shed in someone’s garden would upset us? I am sooo busy I neither know nor care what my neighbours put in or on THEIR private property.
Nosy neighbours, interfering, officious busybodies are the only ones who’d report this.
Pathetic. It’s Communism.
Ha sure but in Communism it would be the Council or State policing and enforcing this. Neighbours denouncing each other is more like fascism.
Surprised Local Councillors are tying their names and brand to this being categorised as a ‘bike shed’. You would assume they are fairly embarrassed now looking at the published pictures. I live locally and walked past this house last night out of interest and genuinely agree with the neighbours, it lowers the general look of the homes next to it and can only assume is blocking light to the neighbour. Surely logic will prevail with the Local Authority on this one.
Ours is a small low level bike storage unit and we are still awaiting hearing from An Bord Pleanala. We always intended to fully landscape around it. https://www.independent.ie/regionals/dublin/dublin-news/council-criticised-for-ridiculous-decision-to-ban-bicycle-storage-unit-in-clontarf-garden-41589117.html
Neighbour from hell …. selfish out with a ‘life is all about me’ attitude and then trying to justify it.
I tried with motorcycle shed, I had to remove it, in Dublin I can quote few cases where similar bicycle boxes were permitted. The planning team gave them to me as a reff…
Nimbyism in Dublin is just so sad. It is getting to the point where this place is unlivable and just so Karen doesn’t have to look at an “ugly” shed. Yep Dublin is grand 🙁
Put your bike in your front hall. That’s what we did for years in the 80s as student before we coukd afford cars. No big deal.
Dirt? Wet? And not everyone has a front hall.
Ahe put a seven foot garden shed in her front garden blocking the neighbours window and wonders why they complained.
B;lockoingt he loght and the view shows how swlfish she is and then playe the bike card.
If it is cycling DCC will agree, two bikes in a large shed!! Do the maths seem funny and I am not sure a lawnmower can be called a bike, maybe in Clontarf!.
Councillor Cooney has to back it up but she would be better if she used her time to fix the footpaths in Clontarf.
No doubt a case of the straw that broke the camels back with this one. An unnecessary article in my opinion giving someone like this airtime. Not a bike shed. Bottom line. Try work with your neighbours and not against them. It’s very easy.
As a resident on Fitzroy Avenue. I can vehemently reject the comment that the port-aloo was as he would say “no problem” . Several objections and complaints were made to the council due to hygienic standards and planning permission queries and it being a huge eye sore along an incredibly busy Street to Croke Park . The lack of communication was a huge issue as the area was incredibly unkept for a significant period of time with zero consultation or care for neighbours with pets or young kids on the street.
No mention in the article or comments of the underlying cause of demand for these things, which is presumably fear of theft. Why not address that? Things like locking the bike to a small steel ring, bike insurance, local policing, a more equal society, education, amenities, denser neighbourhoods, more bikes in general, better rear access via laneways, wider footpaths, etc. Seems like we always go for the most expensive private solution possible.
I have been standing back and watching from afar on this one as I did not want to stir the pot. However, the lady in question was on Newstalk today and it was, on an elemental basis quite humorous to hear her. Her current argument which is quite coherent, is that the shed is needed for a zimer frame and wheelchair for her mum when she comes to visit. Look at the 7 foot shed( not a bike locker no higher than 4 foot) do you see space for a wheelchair and or a Zimer frame to be put in there with the bikes, lawnmower and other pieces filling the shed ? I have read other comments and agree that this woman just wants to get her way and she will push any story to get it. In the meantime it seems she has made choices about her house that have rendered her necessitated to put a 7 foot storage shed in her driveway. Something is off and after reading posts on Reddit I do feel bad for her. Perhaps she needs help. By the way I am all about cycling around Dublin and agree that cycle storage is important. A normal storage locker will fit neatly behind a front wall or hedge and no one will notice it.
Ha! Funny enough I heard the Newstalk piece. I think @samtranum should have done some homework before writing this article. The women has no credibility at this point and clearly has problems and it’s a shame as the actual issue at hand is important as we look to get carbon neutral.
Miss Kelly was on Newstalk today. Her new argument is needing room in her shed (not bike locker)for a walking frame and a wheelchair. 🤔 where would it fit ? It’s fairly clear it’s just another excuse for bad behavior.
When the story keeps changing 🤣
I’m genuinely in shock reading this. Who would have the energy or time to walk around their area and find 100+ other properties with storage units in their gardens? Why was there not a bike storage unit built like the ones in Holland, a country with excellent innovation when it comes to bikes/cycling, perhaps this woman could have spent her time researching the proper legislation and units that obey the councils rules instead. No idea why this article has received airtime, similar to
Comments above. I think this appears to be a case of “I pissed my neighbours off and now I need backup by media outlets to prove my argument”. Cycling and bike storage is crucial, however we need as a country to tackle this by obeying to rules and legislation.
When the Grafton Barber (1 Fairview Strand, Clontarf) renovated old building they took up to 20cm of the footpath where it’s most narrow to install a shoo front. Basically they created a bottle neck for thousands of people using the footpath every day and even pushing people on the road to bypass people with prams. I lodged objection about an illegal shop front but Council quickly found way to “legalize” that land grab and “planning permission” appeared on already working barber shop. Absolutely nothing was done in public interest but a lot to cover an illegal occupation of the footpath.
My next door neighbor in Dublin 5 completely occupied original border wall and even trespassed on my territory but corrupt Council officials keep blind eye on it as that neighbor renting this house to DCC employee’s daughter!
Two years ago I wanted to install high fence in my front garden due to our neighbor, who is DCC employee, constantly threatening us with murder and intimidating our children. Got refusal because it has to be no more than 1.2 m but hundreds of people in the area installed up to TREE meters high fences in their from gardens and Council doesn’t care!!!!
Walked by the 7 foot shed this evening after hearing about this humorous story locally at a tennis game over the weekend. A bike shed supposedly, yet for storage of a zimmer frame and wheelchair. I would have assumed most normal people keep such items in their homes and not in a ‘bike’ shed! The lady in question seems to be tripping herself up and struggling to gain momentum from local listeners. You would only hope the Local Authority sees this one through and insists the unsightly garden shed is removed from the front garden, which certainly lowers the tone of the other established homes on the road. Don’t blame the neighbours to be honest.
Agreed. I walked by with my dog yesterday. It’s a really big shed. If I lived next door her I would be very unhappy. Her ever changing story is certainly hurting her argument and the published photo doesn’t help as it’s clear it’s been used as a storage shed. Such a non news story except perhaps to highlight the need for regulations and how important it is to respect one’s neighbors.
It’s easier to get on with someone that to fight with them. Try to engage with your neighbours and a build a relationship with them. Possibly it seems like you’ve rubbed them up the wrong way and personally, I think your shed is a little much for a front garden. Do the right thing, remove it and save yourself the effort and cost of fighting a lost cause. You won’t win this one. We tried it in Dublin 9 and lost after nearly 2 years of wasted energy. Life is too short.
If front storage is such an issue here, why did they convert their garage? This house already came designed with a perfect, built-in storage solution for exactly this problem! It looks from Streetview like it was converted only months before putting in the shed, so this seems like a solution to a problem they could have easily avoided.
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