The Ramsbottom Health Centre scheme was approved as part of NHS Bury’s 2012/13 capital programme. The proposed works comprises of a small first floor extension providing a meeting room and staff rest area, internal alterations and refurbishment to all GP consulting rooms, minor surgery, clinical rooms, patient waiting area, GP reception office, and patient and staff toilets, new suspended ceilings throughout, electrical and drainage, formation of new ramped access, additional fire escape and path to external area.
Back in December 2012 Bury Council’s Senior Planning Officer advised, following feedback from the Council’s Ecology Officer, that the proposal would result in the disturbance of the existing roof space and as the property is located within 200m of open water habitat, and that bats are known to roost in Ramsbottom they requested an initial assessment be carried out by a suitably experienced bat worker. Provisional planning consent was granted on 21st January 2013 pending the bat survey report.
Planners must now satisfy themselves before issuing planning consent that they have enough information to conclude that either the project will not have a negative impact on the favourable conservation status of bats, or if it seems likely it will, then appropriate measures need to be employed to ensure this does not occur.
NHS Bury commissioned an Ecologist in December 2012 to determine the extent of any bat habitation. Following the survey clear evidence of bats roosting above the west-facing, ground-floor window and first-floor level was found, indicating it was likely that the Health Centre was being used by a maternity colony of the common Pipistrelle bat.
During the summer female bats form maternity colonies, giving birth in June or early July, then for three to four weeks the young are fed by their mother, at which point they are able to fly and they then leave their roosts in August/September. Following further, and more detailed, surveys in July the Ecologist advised that with appropriate care the proposed extension and internal refurbishment works can proceed. Such works would have to commence prior to April 2014.
Capital funding for the scheme has been agreed in principle by NHS England further to local support from Bury CCG and the procurement of a Contractor to undertake these works is under way. A start on site date of late November is anticipated.