BSG Ecology worked with Peter Brett Associates (PBA) on behalf of the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to provide ecological advice regarding the demolition of 23 buildings prior to construction of a large scale residential development at Princess Marina Hospital in Northamptonshire. The site is 17ha in extent and is predominantly grassland and scattered parkland trees, with the buildings arranged into five distinct areas around a central access road.
BSG Ecology was initially appointed to undertake a baseline ecological appraisal of the site in order to determine whether there were likely to be any ecological constraints associated with demolition of the existing buildings. Particular emphasis was placed on assessing the likelihood of legally protected species presence including bats, badgers, nesting birds and reptiles.
Nesting birds were using some of the buildings and badger setts were recorded on site. Many buildings were assessed as having the potential to support roosting bats and required further targeted survey and assessment through dusk emergence and dawn return to roost surveys to determine their presence/likely absence. These surveys identified low numbers of common pipistrelle bats roosting behind external features in many of the buildings across the site.
The information provided by these surveys was used by BSG Ecology to provide effective advice in relation to badgers and nesting birds and to identify appropriate measures to avoid a breach of the protective legislation relevant to these species.
At the time that these surveys were undertaken the proposed residential development had outline planning permission. Persimmon Homes had expressed an interest in purchasing the site but were looking for an acquisition that was free from ecological constraint in order to limit the risks associated with progressing a detailed planning application and its subsequent development. In order to secure a sale the NHS Trust needed to demonstrate the buildings could be demolished. With this in mind, BSG Ecology consulted with Natural England to discuss necessary mitigation measures and subsequently submitted a successful application for a European Protected Species licence (EPSL) authorising demolition of the buildings under ecological supervision.
Persimmon Homes recognised that a clear and practical approach had been key in securing the EPSL. BSG Ecology was therefore subsequently commissioned directly by Persimmon Homes to oversee practical implementation of the licence to ensure that bats were safeguarded in accordance with their legal protection. Alternative roosting opportunities were installed in suitable areas on site in the form of twelve bat boxes and two four-season bat boxes. BSG Ecology guided installation of these alternative roosting opportunities and then supervised the “soft strip” of the buildings.
Two recent badger outlier setts were noted. These required closure in order to facilitate demolition of the two adjacent buildings. We successfully negotiated with Natural’s England technical advisor and, given the status and assessed use of the setts, secured an extension to the licensable period for closure of badger setts. This was key in enabling the buildings to be demolished without having an adverse effect on the project timeline.