FRUSTRATED residents are locked in a battle with council chiefs who have ordered them to remove bike sheds from their front gardens.
A total of 21 households in Withdean, Brighton, have been served notice to remove the sheds as they are violating planning laws. Households on Loder Road, Bates Road, Herbert Road and Balfour Road have all been issued with notices.
Residents said they are being “victimised” and cannot understand why planning officers are targeting their sheds when the council is promoting cycling.
Kieran Barnard, of Bates Road, branded the situation “crazy” as he and his wife, Claudia, and their two children. have had their bike shed for four years. The 38-year-old physiotherapist said: “It is really frustrating and we feel a bit victimised for living in a terraced house. We do not have rear access or anywhere suitable to keep our bikes at the back.
“I feel as if we will not use our bikes as much now, surely the council can make the decision whether to enforce these rules and the planners are undermining the council ethos.
“We are trying to set an example to our two young boys by encouraging them to exercise. Our six-year-old Sam, in particular, loves to cycle.
“The planners are not only targeting individual cyclists, they are targeting whole families.”
Tom Atkins, also of Bates Road, said he had to take his shed down after being threatened with legal action – decrying the affair as “bureaucratic nonsense”.
The 37-year-old said they were refused retrospective planning permission and then refused again when they applied a second time.
He added: “One department of the council is working towards promoting cycling while one department seems to be working against. It seems like a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Clarence Mitchell, Conservative candidate for Brighton Pavillion, said: “By storing them safely in front of the property the bikes are used far more, promoting a healthier lifestyle, encouraging the next generation on to cycles and reducing vehicle pollution – all key aims of the current Green administration. So why are BHCC’s own planning officers now undermining those aims?”
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “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.”
A council spokesman said any structure or tall fence in a front garden required planning permission.
He said: “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.
“We can categorically state with 100% certainty that no politicians from any party have been involved in initiating any enforcement actions over sheds in front gardens.”