CSA were first involved in plans for the rescue and renovation of this Grade II listed farmhouse in 2014, when we were approached by Wychavon District Council to conduct bat surveys of the dilapidated building to determine if bat roosts were present.
Following a long process and collaboration with the Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust, National Lottery funding was finally secured in 2020 to enable the first stage of scaffolding, stabilisation and investigation works to occur – a key step in securing a viable and sustainable future for the building. CSA were re-engaged to update bat work, but acknowledging the late stage in the year, we were only able to complete two end of season surveys. These revealed the presence of minor day roosts of three common species, found within cracks in timbers, mortar and around collapsing dormer windows. Due to extensive internal dereliction with the loss of floors, ceilings and roof structures, no internal inspection work could be completed.
With concerns for the imminent risk of collapse of the building during a harsh winter and risk to the viability of the renovation project, CSA’s experienced bat workers were able to liaise with the Local Authority ecologist and Natural England to devise a pragmatic solution, that would safeguard the favourable conservation status of the local bat population and allow vital works to proceed in the winter to protect the structure from the elements. A mitigation licence was applied for in October 2020, using Licence Policy 4, whereby the application is sought despite an acknowledgement of suboptimal survey data. The risks and costs of delay were argued to be disproportionate to any additional certainty that further surveys in summer 2021 would bring. Mitigation was included for the immediate impacts to roosts during the initial scaffolding and stabilisation works, which would result in disturbance and obstruction of the roosts, and potential loss of roosting features.
CSA were delighted that Natural England were able to approve the licence in December 2020, allowing Wychavon District Council and Worcestershire Building Preservation to proceed with initial plans to secure the future of this historic building.
It is envisaged that a second licence will be applied for once further investigations can be safely undertaken to inform detailed proposals for the final renovation of the building, expected to comprise the creation of six new affordable flats. The final proposals will include designs of new features to be built in to the fabric of the renovated building, to enhance roosting opportunities for larger numbers of bats and support the local bat population long into the future.