A POTENTIAL £40m revamp of Havant town centre is being delayed – because of bats.
Developers have been unable to plough ahead with their planning application for the redevelopment of Market Parade because of the possibility of bats living there.
A £15m building with 120 apartments and six shops is being planned on the site of the former Star pub on the east side of Market Parade.
Longer-term plans include a parkside development of restaurants, a gym and a new forecourt for Havant railway station.
The scheme was set to be formally received by Havant Borough Council and out for consultation during the autumn.
But developers are having wait until next month – the start of the bat breeding season – for ecologists to carry out their surveys.
‘We’re being held up by the possibility, and it’s just the possibility, that there may be bats roosting somewhere,’ said Shaun Adams, a director of developer Hampshire and Regional Property Group, which is working with the architects that designed Gunwharf Quays.
‘We were asked by the local authority for a number of additional consultants’ reports.
‘That’s a very long and very expensive process. We can’t do a bat survey until May. This is a European directive. That’s what we have to do.’
He admitted the hold-up was ‘frustrating’.
Mr Adams said: ‘Havant are trying to support us as much as they can.
‘It’s not Havant’s fault. Unfortunately it’s just British planning legislation which is causing some hold-ups.
‘It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are developing, you come up against hurdles all the time.’
Emma Kinch, a chiropractor who runs a clinic in Market Parade, said: ‘I have never seen a bat. I would know if there was a bat – I hate bats!
‘Where would a bat go?’
She added: ‘It seems to have all gone quiet. We thought it would all be happening now. We are keen for it to happen. It would be something fresh and new.’