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Bike shed row erupts as "ugly" cycle shelter "ruins" sea view, according to some furious locals... although others tell critics to get their "priorities straight" as "it's hardly the end of the world"

The "absolute carbuncle of a shed" has attracted the ire of some seaside residents, a councillor claiming the installation of seven bike parking shelters "boggles the mind" — even if some more relaxed locals have told the ranting critics to "chill out"...

The installation of some new bike parking shelters in one seaside community has triggered fervent debate, a portion of disgruntled residents up in arms about the "eyesore" structures that they believe "ruins" the sea views. On the other hand, the complaints have been met by rolled eyes from some locals who have argued it is "not really the end of the world" and the outraged "clearly don't have a lot to worry about in life" if they are "bothered about a bike shed".

Southend cycle shelter at centre of resident row (Chris DG/Facebook/Southend City Discussion Group)

Southend Council is installing seven bicycle parking sheds, including some on the seafront, with the project financed by the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund. Planning permission was not necessary as the sheds have been installed under permitted development rights, a section of the community voicing its displeasure at the appearance of the shelters.

> Are bike shed planning sagas set to become a thing of the past? Government proposes to relax planning laws to allow bike storage units in front gardens

Leading the way is Stephen Aylen, a non-aligned councillor for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council who questioned why the "ugly and out of place" structures had been built, especially when he believed the land at the Belfairs Park site was going to be turned into four car parking spaces.

"We have had five meetings to discuss parking for the shops. One of the solutions we came up with to increase parking was to add four parking spaces on already existing ground in Belfairs Park," he told the Basildon Canvey Southend Echo. "Now there is a cycle rack gone on it. This should be removed. This was not the agreement. It was agreed to become parking. Why they put it here we do not know. They don't need planning permission which boggles the mind as other cycle places usually need planning permission.

"They have put this secure ugly cycle storage unit. Also, the colours, why bright colours? Why not colour to blend in with surrounding? Who will use them? How will you use them? There are no details. It is like they have just been chucked around without any thought about the design, location, or anything. It is just silly. I want this one in Belfairs to be removed, and I will push to get it removed."

Likewise, some residents launched a Facebook pile-on when pictures of one "absolute carbuncle of a shed" appeared. "Total eyesore, not in keeping with area and totally ruins the view and atmosphere on this part of the front," Chris DG wrote on the Southend City Discussion Group.

Other accusations of Southend Council wasting money, a lack of consultation and the claimed detrimental impact on the sea views were heard before the tone of the replies changed, numerous residents fed up with their fellow locals' complaints.

"Chill out, man. People dying and starving and you're bothered about a bike shed."

"Not really the end of the world, is it? The toilet block down there is far more hideous, has been an eyesore for decades, but nobody has moaned about that," the top comment on the post from Dan Kudla now says.

"Chill out, man. People dying and starving and you're bothered about a bike shed. You need to get your priorities straight, clearly you don't have a lot to worry about in life," Cassi Macauley wrote.

"As if a bike shed ruins a whole area. Honestly, the stuff people get mad about it crazy. There are literally people dying from war and sickness but 'oh no, not a bike shed'," another comment said.

The bike shelter row comes a month on from Southend Council's deputy leader commenting on a consultation to impose stricter 'no cycling' rules in the town centre, that could see cyclists being ordered to pay £100 for riding on the high street, saying that "fining is one of the few options left".

It is proposed that a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) could be introduced to enforce the cycling ban, following the lead of several other towns and cities in the UK where cyclists can be stopped and fined for breaching an order by cycling in prohibited areas.

> Bicycle storage at new flats could push car salesman to legal action over dispute it would "block access", as development to offer no car parking but residents to receive bike shop discount instead

Southend is also just the latest location to see a dispute over bike storage shelters or hangars, road.cc having reported on numerous similar situations across England in recent times.

Last summer, a section of Oxford residents hit out at on-street bike hangars that appeared in three streets, the critics accusing the storage of looking like "pigsties" and being "discriminatory to the disabled". Earlier in the year, residents in Bath had claimed similar hangars, which were branded "green measles", could threaten the city's Unesco World Heritage status.

Bath bike hangar (Falco / Facebook)

Those claims came despite Unesco's website noting that Bath "remains vulnerable to transport pressures", with "improved transport" based around public transport and pedestrianisation part of the management plan to protect the city's integrity and authenticity as a World Heritage site.

And while cycling was not mentioned explicitly, the advised shift to walking and a "bus-based network" implied the "need for improved transport" will not be answered by overdependence on car use.

Brighton & Hove City Council is probably the local authority to have had the roughest ride over introducing bike hangars to its area's streets. NIMBY locals said they were "concerned and distressed" by "giant ugly" bike hangars, residents furious that the storage facilities were taking up car parking spaces, and leaving the Sun newspaper's coverage to call the scheme "woke".

Cycle hangar in Norfolk Square, Brighton (credit - Laura King, Facebook)

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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17 comments

Avatar
Dnnnnnn | 1 month ago
3 likes

I'm going to show my bike a picture of this shed and tell it, "If you don't behave..."

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The Larger Cyclist | 1 month ago
3 likes

loads of parking

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The Larger Cyclist | 1 month ago
0 likes

 

The area isn't exactly historic! And loads of CAR parking just up the road

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Muddy Ford | 1 month ago
2 likes

They are ugly, and presumably require registration to use them. But the argument "it should be car parking instead" is absurd. Surely a camera and police response to the use of angle grinders would be better, with carrying an angle grinder in public considered the same as carrying a knife.  

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Sriracha | 1 month ago
2 likes

Looks more like it is designed to keep the bike thieves in rather than out. That might in fact be a better solution.

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ktache | 1 month ago
7 likes

Surely some nice bright colours, some stripes, it is the seaside. Like beach huts...

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wtjs | 1 month ago
4 likes

Stephen Aylen, a non-aligned councillor for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council who questioned why the "ugly and out of place" structures had been built

A nightmare future vision! Is this the emergence of nutter anti-cyclist hyper-junk press pleasing psycho-councillors who are too crazed even for the Tories?

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levestane | 1 month ago
2 likes

Good to see the advertising algorithms are working well.

 

 

 

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don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
0 likes

'kin snowflakes!

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andystow | 1 month ago
20 likes

"Now there is a cycle rack gone on it. This should be removed. This was not the agreement. It was agreed to become parking."

It is parking. Just not for cars.

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lesterama | 1 month ago
4 likes

To be fair, those Southend sheds are pretty ugly. I hope that they are useful for locals, rather than just winding up the anti-cycling brigade.

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bobbinogs replied to lesterama | 1 month ago
4 likes

Yepp, I would much rather be looking at large car parks right in front of a beach, filled with oversized cars, which is the usual alternative.  Much more aesthetically pleasing!

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don simon fbpe replied to bobbinogs | 1 month ago
6 likes

An vans, it'd be a lovely spot for those pesky vanlifers!

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chrisonabike replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
1 like

Have you tried disguising it underneath some bicycles?

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don simon fbpe replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
3 likes

Have you seen my truck? Covered in the bloody things...

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brooksby replied to bobbinogs | 1 month ago
3 likes

bobbinogs wrote:

Yepp, I would much rather be looking at large car parks right in front of a beach, filled with oversized cars, which is the usual alternative.  Much more aesthetically pleasing!

Cough - cough - Clevedon seafront! - cough cough  3

Avatar
NOtotheEU replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
1 like

My first thought on reading the headline was "ooh, has Clevedon put in covered bike parking now?".

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