Private residential development in Framfield, East Sussex
We were approached by a private homeowner who had submitted a planning application for the construction of two extensions on his semi-detached property in East Sussex. The council had asked him to withdraw his application over concerns of the impact of the proposals on a known maternity roost of serotine bats in the adjoining property.
Serotine’s are one of the UK’s largest bats and mainly roost in older houses and buildings. Female bats have their young in maternity roosts and typically return to the same site every year. Serotine’s are considered to be uncommon so their maternity roosts are of significant importance.
What we did
Within a week of receiving instruction we undertook a building inspection and started dusk emergence and dawn return to roost surveys. The aim was to ascertain whether the serotine maternity roost was still active, identify how bats access the building, and determine whether any further roosts were present that could be affected by the works. We also undertook research to identify existing information on the serotine roost.
During the surveys, we recorded up to 16 serotine bats emerging from and returning to the roost, indicating that the maternity roost was still active. Access points were noted and roosts of two other bat species (common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle) were also identified.
Although the proposed development was located in close proximity to the serotine roost, our survey information enabled us to determine that it was unlikely that the development would alter the continued use or functionality of either this roost, or any of the additional roosts identified. However, it was recognised that there was the potential for bats to be indirectly impacted during the construction phase of the works.
Normally, works affecting bats are subject to licensing from Natural England. However, we were able to describe in a method statement how the works could be carried out without the need for licensing. This included adopting reasonable avoidance measures, such as scheduling certain elements of the works to avoid the times when bats are most sensitive to harm and disturbance, and ensuring that access points to the roosts weren’t blocked.
Our report was submitted to the council who subsequently granted full planning consent for the development, even commenting on the decision notice that the report was ‘very good’.
Removing the need for licensing saved our client money and potential delays, and meant that works were able to start immediately after planning consent was granted. Construction is now well underway and our client hopes to move in shortly.