Bats Delay Somerset Town Centre Renovations

 

Set plans to regenerate a Somerset town centre with a new swimming pool have been unexpectedly delayed by bats.

The South Somerset District Council planned to demolish the former ACI buildings off Silver Street in Chard to enable space for a new leisure centre and a swimming pool, as part of a wider plan to regenerate the town.

The regeneration scheme’s project manager, Jeb Farrah, had promised in Septem that a planning application to knock down the existing building would be submitted before Christmas, but the council has recently revealed that the discovery of bats in the location meant that developments would not occur until early next year, 2019.

A spokesperson from the council comments, “The species have been confirmed as being brown long-eared common bats; however, this does not negate the need to apply to Natural England for a licence to remove them. We cannot put forward a planning application to demolish the site without planning in the mitigation measures and the constraints set out by Natural England, which takes us well beyond the Christmas period.”

The council reports that the early discovery of the potential ‘ecology constraints’ in the scheme planning process has enabled them to factor in these issues and work to lessen the time-scales elsewhere without having to compromise the overall delivery timetable of the project.

A stakeholder meeting will occur on November 23, to disclose the council’s plans to interested parties.

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