A cycling family in Hackney say they are “completely disorientated” after trying to build bike storage outside their home for nearly three years.

After Carmen and Oscar Barlow moved to Belgrade Road, Hackney, in 2019 they put up a bike storage unit.

This was served with an enforcement notice – the couple appealed this but the appeal was rejected.

So the couple put in a planning application to the council which was also rejected.

They say they have been in a constant approximately six-week long cycle of putting in an application, being rejected and appealing the decision.

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Oscar said they originally moved to the borough because of its “bike-friendly” reputation: “One of the reasons we moved here was that Hackney has this reputation as this really cycle-friendly borough.

“We thought, ‘great, let’s get rid of the car!’”

“We don’t really want to have a car because of the climate crisis – so we moved to Hackney and built our lives around cycling.”

Since moving to Hackney, the couple has had child so hope to be able to use the storage space for prams as well children’s bicycles as well.

Hackney Gazette: Carmen said they couple now use the storage unit for prams and other equipment as well as bicyclesCarmen said they couple now use the storage unit for prams and other equipment as well as bicycles (Image: Cristina Golomoz)

Oscar continued: “This has completely disorientated us because we didn’t expect there to be any problem because of Hackney’s reputation but also because, in the meantime, we’ve built our lives around cycling and we need somewhere to keep bikes.

“So it’s incredibly inconvenient the idea that the thing that makes our life work might just vanish.”

The couple said one application was rejected on grounds of it being too big in size – but when they applied for a smaller sized unit this was also rejected.

A different application was also rejected for being made of a metallic material called Corten – but according to the couple, this material is used across Hackney for structures including LTN boxes and conservation zones.

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Carmen added: “We just want to store our bikes, that’s all we want to do.

“We don’t want to cause any disruption or upset anyone - we just want to store our bikes in a way that’s fire safe.

“We have a very narrow hall and if we wanted to store the bikes in the house - which you might think is the logical alternative - it is a fire hazard because it blocks the majority of the hall.”

Oscar added: “We’re trying to do the right thing for the environment and our family - and at every step we’re getting blocked.

“And [then] you try and find out why and it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Hackney Gazette: The couple said they are struggling to figure out what might make their planning applications successfulThe couple said they are struggling to figure out what might make their planning applications successful (Image: Carmen Barlow)

Cllr Mete Coban, Hackney Council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Access to secure cycle parking is essential for residents looking to use their bikes more often, which is why we have made sure that the council has already delivered the highest number of cycle hangars of any London borough, and recently committed to delivering an additional 4,000 new secure spaces for residents bikes by 2026."

The council said residents who want to create off-street cycle parking can be helped to submit the appropriate planning applications that comply with planning policies by Hackney’s Planners.

Cllr Mete added: “In this case, the residents built their bike storage without realising that, due to its location, planning permission was required.

“The council had to consider the size of the structure and ensure it was built with materials appropriate for the site.

“The independent planning inspector has ruled that the bike storage is not in line with planning policies.

“The council hasn’t issued an enforcement notice, but has instead provided advice to help the residents submit a successful planning permission if they choose to reapply.”