Home » Wadswick Green Continuing Care Retirement Community – Finalist in the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management Best Practice Award 2018

Wadswick Green Continuing Care Retirement Community – Finalist in the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management Best Practice Award 2018

Applied Ecology Ltd (AEL) is delighted to announce that the Wadswick Green Continuing Care Retirement Community has been shortlisted by CIEEM for the best Large-Scale Mitigation and/or Enhancement project in the 2018 Best Practice Awards – https://www.cieem.net/cieem-awards-2018-finalists

H.M.S. Royal Arthur was a Royal Naval Leadership School from 1939 to 1993 and AEL was appointed to complete an ecological assessment to support a planning application to convert the site into a continuing care retirement community called Wadswick Green. The most significant ecological constraint was found to be the presence of roosting horseshoe bats making use of the site’s abandoned buildings and a perceived risk of redeveloping the site on the integrity of Box Mine SSSI, part of the Bath and Bradford on Avon Bats SAC.

AEL confirmed the presence of a breeding colony of lesser horseshoe bats (LHBs) – between 11 and 38 adults carrying between five and nine pups (bimonthly counts between May-August) roosting across the site’s abandoned buildings alongside small numbers of day roosting greater horseshoe bats, common pipistrelle, brown long-eared and natterer’s bats.  Hibernation by a single common pipistrelle and two LHBs was also verified.Greater Horseshoe bat maternity roost

AEL helped ensure that effective biodiversity enhancement was built into the development design and this has proved successful in sustaining and enhancing the site’s bat population alongside the construction and operation of the development.

AEL used temperature loggers to understand the roosting preferences of the LHB maternity group and transferred this knowledge into the bat house design.  The monitoring indicated draughtiness was a limiting factor with the maternity group roosting only in warm locations that were draught free.  The bat house design was informed by a literature review, and site visit to LHB bat houses in Wales – this helped confirm the following design objectives:

  • two on site bat houses would be required to accommodate lesser and greater horseshoe bats as the two species could not be expected to cohabit the same building;
  • bat houses had to be large, brick built with pitched dark tiled roofs oriented to maximise solar gain;
  • they should be located close to existing vegetation used by horseshoe bats;
  • they should be located in a bat friendly landscape free of significant human disturbance and unilluminated by artificial lighting;

AEL completed a light path assessment to verify that the bat houses would not be shaded by the proposed retirement community buildings.

The bat houses had the following design parameters:

  • 1,200 sq ft roof voids with traditional cut and pitch rafters and insulated slate roof coverings, hot boxes and sealed (draught free) eaves;
  • Ground floor rooms that mimicked store rooms used by LHBs in the wider site;
  • An underground basement (in one bat house) to provide conditions suitable for hibernation;
  • Secure grilled entrance door and grilled window openings for bat access;
  • Enclosed bat boxes built into external walls and timber cladding to provide crevice roosts;
  • Rendered blockwork ground floor partition walls to minimise the dehydrating effect of cement blocks;
  • Post and rail perimeter fencing and information boards to minimise disturbance.
  • Construction of two wildlife ponds, new woodland and meadow grassland planting as part of the first development phase; and
  • Low level (cowled) lighting to illuminate key pedestrian and vehicle access routes in the wider site.

Greater Horseshoe bat maternity roost

AEL stipulated that the bat houses had to be constructed before site demolition and the start of the following years bat active period so that bats returning in Spring had no choice but to use the new bat houses.  The strategy proved successful with LHBs raising young in the southern bat house in the first summer (2014) and extending maternity use into the northern bat house in 2015.

AEL has completed annual monitoring that has shown an increase in bat house LHB numbers year on year with the maximum summer totals (adults and pups) being: 28 in 2014, 53 (2015), 55 (2016) and 91 (2017).  Monitoring has also verified that the bat houses are used by day roosting common pipistrelle and greater horseshoe bats, and night roosting/feeding brown long-eared and natterer’s bats, as well as small numbers of hibernating LHBs.  It is anticipated that bat numbers will continue to increase as the remaining undeveloped land is built out and additional wildlife friendly habitats created.

AEL has provided updates to the site managers and residents on the bat house monitoring results and has provided the residents with a photo-book and coffee morning talk to describe the site’s ecology and the development mitigation and enhancement strategy.

The winners of the 2018 CIEEM awards are to be announced on June 21st in London – https://www.cieem.net/cieem-awards-2018-finalists