Historic buildings can often be home to wildlife such as bats, barn owls and other nesting birds. Bats in particular like older buildings and there are often no obvious signs to the owner that bats are present.
All species of bat in the UK are protected by legislation including, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) and are a material consideration when determining planning applications.
When making an application for planning permission or listed building consent it is often necessary to submit an ecological assessment undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced ecologist. The ecologist will need to demonstrate if bats are likely to be present in the building(s) and if so how they would be affected by the proposals. This may lead to the requirement of more detailed surveys, mitigation and full compensation proposals if bats are found to be present.
Applicants should be aware of this before they submit their application. If protected species are not considered at the early stages of a project, planning and Listed building applications may need to be delayed and potentially withdrawn or refused.
When is a survey likely to be required?
If the proposed development involves the modification, conversion/renovation, demolition or removal of buildings and structures (especially roof voids) of the following1:
- All agricultural buildings
- Buildings with weather boarding and/or hanging tiles that are within 200m of woodland and/or water
- Pre-1960 detached building structures within 200m of woodland and/or water
- Pre-1914 buildings within 400m of woodland and/or water
- Pre-1914 buildings with gable ends or slate roofs, regardless of location
- Demolition, in full or part, of any other building within the curtilage of a listed building constructed prior to 1st July 1948.
there is a significant risk of bats being affected. Therefore, a bat survey will need to be undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced ecologist in accordance with the Bat Conservation Trust good practice guidelines2. The results of the survey must be submitted with the application.
1Not a comprehensive list, bats may also be affected by proposed works to other types of buildings
2Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines (2016). Bat Conservation Trust
Building owners should also be aware of this issue when carrying out works to their buildings which do not require permission, such as minor repairs in roof spaces. Complying with the relevant legislation, including obtaining and complying with the terms and conditions or any licences required, is compulsory even where planning permission is not required.
For further information on this topic please take a look at the guidance provided below or take advantage of our ecological pre-application advice service to specifically discuss your project with one of our the Biodiversity Officers. https://www.stroud.gov.uk/environment/planning-and-building-control/apply-for-planning-permission/pre-application-advice-and-enquiries