Planning rethink needed as cycling demand grows, claim Greens

Planning policy in Edinburgh needs to adapt to allow bike storage as the appetite for cycling soars.

That is the message from Green councillors following a landmark decision by a planning sub-committee this week in which councillors agreed to overturn officers’ recommendations to refuse a bike shed at Hartington Gardens in the south of the city.

The Greens have claimed that this is a small but significant step towards “the transport realities of the 21st century”.

Over the last few months cycle campaign group Spokes has been highlighting the tension between council transport policy and planning policy as a number of households were refused permission for or told to remove modest-sized bike sheds to the front of their homes.

Green councillors have supported Spokes’ call and on Wednesday backed a householder in Hartington Gardens as she submitted a successful retrospective planning application for a bike shed on which enforcement action for removal had been threatened.

The decision came hot on the heels of a successful appeal to the Scottish Government over an order to remove a bike shed in the Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart ward of Green councillor Gavin Corbett. In that case the Reporter found in favour of the home-owner, as long as the shed was reduced in height.

Local Green councilllor, Melanie Main said:

“I am delighted that common sense has prevailed. Increasing numbers of people are doing exactly what the Council is asking them to do and getting on their bike day in, day out. By doing this they are reducing demand for cars which affect the appearance and feel of a street far more than a well-designed bike shed does. And for people with little alternative, a secure shed may be the difference to regular use of the bike or not.”

She was joined by fellow Green councillor, Nigel Bagshaw, who sits on Planning Committee. He said:

“The Council has a duty to ensure that any development is appropriate for the character of an area. But it also has to recognise our own ambitious targets to increase cycling as a basic mode of transport. I think it is perfectly possible to allow modest-sized, well-designed bike sheds that are sympathetic to an area. That is why I am pleased that the committee backed my proposal to grant permission in this case and I also welcome the Cockburn Association’s support for this decision.

“But this needs to be about more than one small step – planning policy itself needs to adapt to the transport realities of the 21st century.”