This shouldn't be news, but it is. A family in Bournville wanted a secure store for their bikes on their driveway. They had done the right thing and gone car free, tackling at a stroke many of the problems that Birmingham faces, but they still needed transport. So they elected for the healthy option, cycling. However, that left them with a problem faced by many people in small houses, secure storage. They have a now carless driveway, so they asked Bournville Village Trust if it would be OK to (partially) use it for a secure bike store. At first the trust refused permission, but after discussion realised their initial decision was wrong. Again the Cummings family did the right thing and applied for planning permission from Birmingham City Council, but that application was refused. Apparently it's OK to place a shed on your driveway if the shed concerned is a euphemism for a beaten up old car, but not if it's a shiny new shed for bikes. This is despite the council wanting to encourage cycling. Even intervention from their local Labour councillor, Liz Clements, came to nowt.
Of course one entirely legal possibility was to buy an old van, and use its last gasp to get it on to their driveway for use as a bike store. However, that would have been unfair to the neighbours, who were supportive of their having a bike store, and they didn't want an eyesore on their drive anyway.
If you want one of these on your drive, you don't need anyone's permission
So the family turned to Push Bikes, and Push Bikes committee member Shivaji Shiva, took up the challenge of appealing the decision. Shivaji is a lawyer with VWV, and with pro-bono help from colleague and planning expert Chris Allingham, that appeal was recently won.
On hearing the news, Liz Clements said, "I am pleased with this common sense outcome, and the council as the planning authority will look carefully at the judgement and will then apply the lessons learned. Ms Cumming is my constituent and what her family have done, in giving up their car and getting around with their four kids by bike, is inspirational. Birmingham city council wants to make it easier for everyone to cycle to ease congestion, meet our climate targets – and because it’s fun. We recognise bike storage is a big issue for many people living in flats and terraces and I hope that we can make the process of getting permission for a bike store easier in future". That's excellent to hear, as it comes from the person who a couple of weeks ago was made the city council cabinet lead for Transport.