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Bats must be built new home before £9m Norwich hospital revamp can take place

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:53 09 April 2018

Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)  Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Maren Winter

Ambitious plans for a multi-million pound replacement hospital in Norwich have 
been lodged - but bats will need to be found a new 
home before demolition work can begin.

Norwich Community Hospital Plans. Illustrative view looking north from Bowthorpe Road towards the new hospital. Photo: GL HearnNorwich Community Hospital Plans. Illustrative view looking north from Bowthorpe Road towards the new hospital. Photo: GL Hearn

Health bosses are looking to spend about £9m on a major revamp of the Norwich Community Hospital (NCH) site, off Bowthorpe Road and have submitted proposals to Norwich City Council.

It would see the current hospital knocked down, with a replacement five-storey hospital built, along with new care units, a care home and accommodation for workers.

But the discovery of bats in one of the existing buildings means that, if planning permission is secured, a new home for the mammals would have to be provided before demolition could begin.

A Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust spokeswoman said: “The trust has now submitted the outline application for redevelopment of the old NCH site to provide a new hospital.

Norwich Community Hospital in Bowthorpe Road. PHOTO: Nick ButcherNorwich Community Hospital in Bowthorpe Road. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

“The proposed development looks to redevelop the existing site to provide a replacement hospital along with complementary uses, such as extra care, key worker accommodation and a care home.

“The new hospital building would replace buildings that are no longer fit for purpose, including some that have been vacant for some considerable time.

“The development will be planned to ensure that there is no interruption to the delivery of health services at the hospital.”

But, during surveys, bats, including common and soprano pipistrelles and 
brown long-eared bats were detected in the area, with the loft of one of the buildings on the site being used by the creatures.

How the revamp Norwich Community Hospital site could look. Pic: GL Hearn.How the revamp Norwich Community Hospital site could look. Pic: GL Hearn.

That has meant the trust has also had to apply to build a bat roost above a bin store, to provide a new home for the animals, before demolition can take place.

The trust spokeswoman said: “Following specialist recommendations, we are making new bat roosting provision in advance of planned demolition schedules, to allow the resident bat populations time to populate the new roosting areas.”

She added: “The submission follows a significant amount of public consultation, and positive pre-application discussions with the council and key stakeholders, and we now await the outcome of the submission.”

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