Demolition of former Arundel Court Primary school in Portsmouth could be delayed after bats spotted and droppings found

BATS have halted the demolition of a former Portsmouth school.

Saturday, 27th June 2020, 6:34 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th June 2020, 6:45 pm
The new Arundel Court Primary Academy building which children moved into in February. Picture: Sarah Standing

Arundel Court Primary Academy is undergoing a rebuild, during which a new school building has been built on the playing fields.

The plan was then to demolish the old building and turn that land into new playing fields. But the project could be delayed after bat droppings were discovered and the flying mammals were spotted in the grounds.

A statement from the DfE said: ‘Following a survey of the Arundel Court Primary Academy building, the ecologist identified bat droppings but no evidence of roosts. Further surveys are due to be carried out shortly. We will confirm next steps in due course following completion of the surveys.’

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An investigation has been launched to establish the presence of roosting bats at Arundel Court Primary Academy's old building in Northam Street. Picture: Sarah Standing

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Portsmouth City Council confirmed the sighting of bats in the area – and if a roost is discovered measures may be needed which could potentially delay the demolition.

The government website states that bats are a protected species and as such ‘their breeding sites and resting places are fully protected by law’. The law prohibits the destruction of a breeding or resting place for bats and the ‘intentional disturbance of a bat while it’s in a structure or place of shelter or protection’.

The council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Suzy Horton, said: ‘The pre-demolition process has identified the sighting of bats on the site which is being reviewed to establish any mitigation required and its effect on the programme.’

Any measures put in place will not affect children’s education as pupils moved into the new 700-capacity school building in February.

The University of Chichester Academy Trust, which oversees the school, said the old building no longer comes under its jurisdiction.

A trust spokesman said: ‘The demolition of the old site and investigation into the presence of bats has had no impact on the opening of the school building and pupils are now gradually returning to class following the coronavirus lockdown period.

‘Arundel Court Primary moved into its new academy building in February and immediately transferred responsibility for the old site and its demolition to the Department for Education and their contractors.’

Investigations are ongoing to ascertain the presence of roosting bats and what ‘mitigation’ would need to be put in place.

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