Fire safety claims are flagged as ‘false’ among bike storage plans

Councilors blocked plans to move a cycle shop project from inside a new block to the back garden after hearing the developer’s reason – fire safety – was bogus. The change would have seen 80 cycle racks moved to two sheds at the back of a 40-flat complex on the site of the former Railway Inn pub in Yate.

But South Gloucestershire Council’s transport officer told a planning committee that the applicants were “ignorant” in claiming the move from the main building was necessary because of the danger of lithium batteries for electric bikes and scooters bursting into flames. Myles Kidd said the developers never mentioned these concerns when they submitted the original plans, which received permission in 2021 and included internal storage.

Applicants Rail construction company planning agent Kit Stokes told the development control committee on Thursday 9 May that the National Council of Fire Chiefs advised to keep bicycles and e-scooters outside rather than inside next to a staircase leading to the houses. He said the Station Road site was to be bought by housing provider Places For People, which plans to make all 40 flats available as “affordable housing” and whose preference was to have the bike shop outside .

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Planning officers advised councilors to give the go-ahead, saying the number of cycle racks remained unchanged at 80 and was twice what the authority’s policy required. They said that while the scheme had shortcomings, they would not justify a refusal.

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But in an unusual public display of disagreement between council officers, Mr Kidd said: “The reason I wanted to speak is that I disagree with the recommendation in the officer’s report.” He said it would be far less convenient for residents to take their bikes from the garden and then cycle them through the property than if they were inside, which is why the council “generally fails to encourage people to cycle”.

Mr Kidd said: “The original proposal was an excellent example of good design and what has been changed here, for very bogus reasons which I totally disagree with, is based on fire safety. While there have been reports of lithium batteries overheating and bursting into flames, it is my understanding that the cause is generally poor quality batteries, as in fake or damaged batteries.