Developers set up ‘bat hotel’ in Durham

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VISITORS will be swooping in to populate rooms in a new city centre ‘guest house.’

But this is a guest house with a difference – it’s been designed for bats!

Daubenton bat

Daubenton bat

The team behind the £27million Freeman’s Reach project in Durham will set up the spot for the rare Daubentons bat, which inhabits the area around the former ice rink site and will become the base for 395 National Savings and Investment workers, restaurant, cafe and visitor kiosk.

The concrete and masonry structure will give the bats somewhere to roost and will be buried beneath the ground, with two openings which will emerge from the riverbank.

It has been designed so that if the river floods, the bats can escape from the upper opening.

The bat hotel will join bat boxes already installed below Milburngate Bridge by developers who worked alongside Durham County Council.

BATCAVE: Project manager Ian Beaumont in the Bat Hotel at Freeman's Reach in Durham.

BATCAVE: Project manager Ian Beaumont in the Bat Hotel at Freeman's Reach in Durham.

The developer has installed shelves which can be used by otters as they make their way along the river and holts, cleared the area and put in a fish pass and fish counter, which will be able to differentiate between species.

The information will then be passed on to the Environment Agency.

Ian Beaumont, project director of the Freeman’s Reach Development, said: “The Bat Hotel is a very impressive structure and has been made to a targeted design specification. This ensures the ‘hotel’ will be as effective as possible for the conservation of the Daubentons at the development and attracting a larger population.

“It was very important for us to include considerations for local wildlife during the design and development of the site. By ensuring that these ecological features are in place it enables wildlife to access suitable and sustainable habitats that will help them to thrive.”

The work to the bat hotel has been carried out after the developers met the requirements of the Natural England European Protected Species Licence requirements.

The finished project will ensure 800 jobs remain in Durham, with 75 per cent of the buildings’ power to be generated with by its own hydroelectric system which will feature an Archimedes Screw.