The UK is home to 17 species of bat, all of them protected by statutes such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. So, where does this leave you if you want to build or remodel a home on land where bats roost? It’s a question that design and build experts Oakbridge Bespoke are well equipped to answer. If there is a ‘reasonable likelihood’ of bats being present, then you’ll need a bat emergence survey as part of the planning application process or as part of a conversion under Permitted Development rights legislation.  

This emergence survey can usually only be undertaken between May and September when bats are out of hibernation and at their most active. That means monitoring bat echolocation calls using specialist equipment at dusk and dawn when bats emerge from and then return to the roost. The development process must then demonstrate what steps will be taken to mitigate any impact on the species. Oakbridge Bespoke often supports clients to undertake bat surveys as part of their design and build service. In certain scenarios, the company has gone even further. There have been cases where clients have had delay their build due to the presence of a maternity roost, where female bats gather over the summer to give birth and nurture their young until they are old enough to fly. In one case, the Oakbridge Bespoke team even designed a roof space specifically for a maternity roost in case the bats returned to use it the following summer. 
 “Preserving the habitats of local species is of the utmost importance during renovation and new build projects. Part of that means working around seasonal patterns, from nesting to hibernation. And, in some cases, it means thinking creatively about how to build animal conservation measures into the design of the home itself.” Michael Clifton, Head of Design, Oakbridge Bespoke
When it comes to bats, there are two types of survey that can be undertaken, according to ecological consultancy Arbtech. A scoping bat survey (stage 1) is an internal and external inspection of your buildings. It can be undertaken in daylight at any time of year. For this preliminary roost assessment, clients can often receive their report within a matter of days. The stage 2 bat survey, which Arbtech refers to as the emergence survey, is undertaken if the scoping survey finds bats presents or finds evidence of bats, such as droppings. It may also be required if a building provides medium to high potential for roosting, even if there is no evidence of bats. This is because bats are a legally protected species, so development work needs to factor in protection for them.
“If you’re thinking of building or remodelling your home, it’s really important to arrange a bat survey before seeking planning permission, if you want to avoid any unnecessary delays to the process. The presence of bats may impact your build timescales and sometimes even the design itself, so understanding this as early on in the process as possible is always really helpful. Bats populations in the UK have declined in recent years and human activity has played a role in that, so we need to do all we can to protect our flying friends.” Michael Clifton, Head of Design, Oakbridge Bespoke  For more information, please contact Oakbridge Bespoke Homes on 01727 261071 or or visit