Swindon Bat Surveyors – Get planning permission or your money back
If you’re submitting a planning application for a replacement dwelling or conversion, you’ll need a bat survey before Swindon Borough Council will grant a consent.
Of course, this will only be the case if your development is likely to disturb the local bat population or damage their habitats. If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is get in touch with the local planning authority as soon as possible. They’re the only body competent to give you the firm “yes” or “no” that you need to make a decision.
Then, if it turns out you do need a bat report, you’re in the best position to engage a licenced bat surveyor early. We can’t understate the importance of commissioning a bat survey as soon as you need one.
You’ll need a phase one bat survey first, which can be carried out at any time of the year. However, it then transpires that there are bats on or near your development, you’ll need a phase two bat survey, and these can only be carried out between May and September. Leave it too late, and you’ll risk (unnecessary) delay and disappointment.
Whilst we can’t tell you if you need a bat report or not, we can say that there are features that should make you start thinking about bats.
For example, older buildings are more likely to have lifted or hanging tiles, gaps in the flashing and other degenerative architectural features. Bats can easily squeeze through tiny gaps and into the warm and dry loft space within, where they will readily hibernate over the winter months. Proximity to green spaces like Lawns Park or Seven Fields should also raise your suspicion for much the same reason as tree hollows make excellent roosts. Then, there are waterways like the River Ray. Bats find rivers and brooks attractive for many reasons. There are lots of insects, so provide a rich source of food and the hedgerows and other landscape features that line them aid in navigation by echolocation.
To be clear, these examples are far from exhaustive. So again, if you’re in any doubt, please speak to the local authority to get the advice you need.
Building a bat-friendly Swindon
The local plan acknowledges that Swindon’s housing stock needs to grow. However, it also indicates that development won’t be permitted at the expense of the landscape, environment, or wildlife, and sustainable development will be prioritised.
That said, there are plenty of opportunities in Swindon for developers and homeowners alike.
For example, the 12,000 home New Eastern Village scheme recently received a boost when a large development firm bought into the project. Swindon’s infrastructure network is being reinforced too – the council were recently awarded £25 million to create a new public open space on what is now Fleming Way. In keeping with the push for sustainable development, it’ll also include a green “spine” to improve urban biodiversity.
However, not all development is met with enthusiasm; fencing put up alongside a nature reserve by a landowner sparked concerns from residents about the impact it may have on wildlife. These concerns are understandable and if your development will have a material impact on the local bat population, it’s prudent to be alert to the possibility of these concerns being raised by residents, special interest groups, or even the local authority.
Yet another reason why it’s vital to get the expert bat advice you need from a licenced bat surveyor.
The bat survey process
Fortunately, bat surveys are relatively straightforward.
First, you’ll need a phase one bat survey. You may have heard these called walkover bat surveys or scoping bat surveys. These involved a bat ecologist visiting your site at any point in the year and looking for bats, and checking for habitats.
If they don’t find any, and any potential habitats are of low quality this survey and report will usually satisfy the local authority. You might need to put simple mitigating or compensatory measures in place, but that should be the end of the matter.
However, if there are bats or the habitats on your site are reasonably substantial, the local planning authority will ask you for another survey. This is a phase two bat survey, and you might have heard this called a nocturnal bat survey, bat emergence survey or dusk dawn bat survey. As we mentioned earlier, you can only have one of these between May and September. They’re more detailed, and consequently, give your licenced bat surveyor the information they need to figure out how to solve your bat problem and maximise your development opportunities.
“But what if I don’t want a bat survey?”
If bats (or their habitats) are on or near your development and you don’t get a bat survey, the local authority won’t give you planning permission.
Should you be asked to supply a bat report, you’re going to have to send one to support your application. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived in a property for decades and have never seen a bat, or you don’t think that nearby stream is a likely habitat. Without the professional input of a bat surveyor, the local authority won’t take your argument seriously.
If you choose to go ahead anyway and you even so much as disturb bats or their habitats, you risk criminal prosecution.
Bats are a protected species, and their lives and habitats are defended by weighty legislation. Consequences for breaching your obligations without permission range from the severe to the profound and include an unlimited fine or even a prison sentence.
It’s really not a risk worth taking. Because if you choose us, our bat survey and advice will get you planning permission.
If it doesn’t, we’ll give you your money back. No questions asked.
That’s quite a claim to make, but we’ve got the evidence to back it up.
As of 2021, our bat surveys have gotten around 15,000 people across the UK through planning – hundreds of them in and around Swindon alone. We’ve been around for 16 years and are now delivering up to 3,000 successful projects per year, every year.
There are a couple of reasons for this outstanding record:
First, we only help people with planning issues.
If it’s not to do with planning, we don’t touch it. This means our 30+ strong team of licenced bat surveyors are true planning specialists.
Second, our team are all set up to work from home.
This allows us to employ (not subcontract to!) local experts. So, your bat ecologist will hit the ground running with unparalleled knowledge of Swindon Borough Council’s planning policies, the local interest groups who object to planning applications, and Swindon’s unique ecological features.
These two factors combine to offer one more benefit – speed.
Because we only deal with planning issues, and we only deploy local experts; we’re able to complete your survey and report in three to four days at most. If it’s going to take longer, we’ll let you know, but it’s a rare day when a three-to-four-day turnaround isn’t manageable.
Not fast enough?
Then talk to us about investing in a weekend survey or next working day report.
Of course, we can’t do phase two bat surveys out of season. But you can expect the same lightning-fast process from start to finish in the summer months. Just be sure to book your survey well in advanced as our slots slip away quickly the closer we get to May.
Get a bat survey in Swindon with comprehensive advice you can trust
If you want your bat survey to be managed by a local specialist and contain all the advice you need to get planning permission (or your money back), choose Arbtech.
Lowe, T. 2021. Swindon developer buys into 12,000-home New Eastern Village scheme. [Online]. Available from: https://www.housingtoday.co.uk/news/swindon-developer-buys-into-12000-home-new-eastern-village-scheme/5110171.article (Accessed 18th February 2021)
Swindon Borough Council. 2015. Swindon Borough Local Plan 2026. [Online]. Available from: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/downloads/file/3988/swindon_borough_local_plan_2026 (Accessed 18th February 2021)
Swindon Borough Council. 2020. Government backs Bus Boulevard scheme to transform Fleming Way. [Online]. Available from: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/news/article/591/government_backs_bus_boulevard_scheme_to_transform_fleming_way(Accessed 18th February 2021)
Thomas, A. 2021. Wildlife fears after fence appears near site of planned railway sidings homes. [Online]. Available from: https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/19065594.wildlife-fears-fence-appears-near-homes-site/ (Accessed 18th February 2021)