– A range of ideas suitable for Bedford Park
We are often asked by Bedford Park residents for solutions to the challenge of storing bins and bicycles in front gardens. The information below is intended to suggest ideas which will be sensitive to the conservation area heritage, likely to be granted planning approval by your local authority, and be visually acceptable, yet practical.
Since the introduction of “wheelie” bins by Ealing and Hounslow councils, many householders now have to store several large, tall bins in their front gardens and are keen to conceal them in some way when they can’t be hidden behind walls or fences or within shrubs.
At the same time, increased interest in cycling and walking means householders are also seeking storage solutions for bicycles in front gardens, if access to storage in a shed or rear garden isn’t possible.
Bedford Park front gardens tend to be relatively small, and storage units inevitably have a significant visual impact on front gardens, the architecture of the house and the Bedford Park street scene. This makes their design and construction particularly important in preserving the character and beauty of our very special neighbourhood.
Much of Bedford Park has been classified as a Conservation Area because of its special architectural and historic interest. Planning permission is needed for anything that affects the front elevation or street side of the house, so permission is required for any permanent screening structure to be erected in front gardens throughout both the Ealing and Hounslow Conservation Areas. Unlisted buildings are covered by an Article 4(2) Direction and in the case of listed buildings, listed buildings consent is also required.
In determining planning applications, LB Hounslow and LB Ealing consider whether any change preserves or enhances the Conservation Area, and this applies to storage facilities in front gardens. Houses outside this area — in the wider Bedford Park area —require permission only if the structure is part of the front fence and is more than 1 metre high.
The local councils may resist applications which are considered unnecessary, for example, where alternative storage is possible or where the proposal is considered detrimental to the vista of the house. Local authority guidelines specify limits on the size and materials of any outbuildings in the Conservation Area to 10 cu m and construction to be in wood not brick.
Ideas for screening bins
Recognising the small size of most Bedford Park front gardens and our architectural heritage, it’s well worth exploring less prominent options rather than any kind of permanent storage for bins. It’s also worth stating that since bins are supplied with an effective, integral lid, provided they are not over-filled, storage with a weather-proof or secure cover is usually unnecessary.
There are a number of alternatives. Wooden slatted panels or naturally woven willow panels provide some of the easiest and most inexpensive solutions, readymade for growing plants. These structures are ideal for creating a natural looking screen with climbing plants such as Clematis or Jasmin.
Trellis structures can be wooden or metal, standalone, fixed or movable. There are numerous wooden panels on the market, but metal trellis tends to be more expensive.
Even simpler and cheaper – you can purchase adhesive wheelie bin covers with patterns that blend in with garden foliage or position large pot plants, placed on wheeled stands that are easy to move.
As a reminder, any proposal to build a permanent bin store requires planning permission from the local authority. Some tips on materials are below.
Bike stores – structure, size and materials
If the front garden is the only viable option for bike storage, the best solution is a simple timber construction, ideally with a roof supporting plants to create a “growing” disguise, as promoted by the The Royal Horticultural Society.
A brick construction is not recommended since this requires a foundation and because it is more permanent does not offer any flexibility should storage needs change in future.
Timber with a suitable finish, painted to merge with any planting and to recede from the vista of the front fence is recommended as being more appropriate than metal or plastic since it will “age” and be less obtrusive.
The size of the store clearly depends on the number of bins or bikes to be contained and there is a wide range of styles and sizes available. However, many readymade sheds and storage units are unnecessarily large for smaller gardens or houses with low front windows and it’s worth reviewing the minimum size options to avoid taking up too much space in a front garden.
Two 240L bins (115cm high) can be accommodated in a “store” approximately 120cm high x 88cm deep x140cm long and three adult bikes in a store 133cm high x 90cm deep x190cm long. It is recommended that no front storage unit should exceed 1.335 metre in height.
Images of bike sheds courtesy of Brighton Bike Sheds.
Bin or bike store location
Location of any store will of course depend on the size and shape of the front garden and where is most convenient for the householder. To meet planning requirements, the store should not detract from the house, either in design or scale, and should not be so large that it impinges on the vista from the road.
- It’s recommended that the store is positioned against the party wall or fence
- Any store should only be positioned against the front wall or fence if it is hidden by them or by a hedge
It is preferable to construct stores on existing paving or hard standing so that areas of soft-landscaping and planting are not lost. Apart from being visually colourful and varied compared with hard landscaping, areas of planting protect properties against flooding and subsidence and provide valuable environmental benefits such as regulating temperature, better control of carbon monoxide and more birds and wildlife. Both Ealing and Hounslow councils advise retaining vegetation in front gardens.
Creating a green roof
A living “green roof” can be created, such as a sedum roof with low growing succulents from the sedum or stonecrop family.
Alternatively, a simple timber tray could be lined, painted and filled with potted plants such as creeping thyme. This solution offers opportunities for creative and individual style of planting.
The Royal Horticultural Society offers practical guidance including the types of plants which work well on their website.
Information about ‘living roofs’ is available here.
If a living roof is not practical, it is recommended that the roof is made of wood and ideally painted green.
With thanks to littleterracehouse.com for the image left and above of the green roof.
Please contact the Society at Information@bedfordpark.org.uk if you have any questions.