Westhoughton pub development to go ahead after police step in over 'non-existent' bats

The Bolton News: Chris Houghton outside the Cross Guns pub, Bolton Road, Westhoughton Chris Houghton outside the Cross Guns pub, Bolton Road, Westhoughton

A £500,000 development has got the go-ahead after police stepped in over concerns about “non-existent bats”.

Work to demolish the Cross Guns in Bolton Road, Westhoughton, was halted because of small holes in the roof — even though there was no evidence of bats being present.

Chris Houghton, managing director of technology provider Eventura, had brought in Chester-based ecological consultants Arbtech which conducted a survey of the old pub before his plans to relocate the firm’s base from St George’s Square in Bolton town centre went into full swing.

Mr Houghton said: “They came back and said there was no evidence of bats being present — no droppings or anything.

“But they said there were small gaps in the roof where certain species of bat could possibly reside. There was potential for them being there, even though there were no actual bats.

“They said the only way to check would be for two to three people from their company to monitor the building over two nights, but that could not happen until May.

“We offered to put specialist bat boxes in, just in case, but this was not enough to satisfy them.

“We were stuck between a rock and hard place. We were due to start demolishing the pub in December ready for building work to start in March.”

But now, after consulting wildlife officers at Great Manchester Police, Mr Houghton has been assured demolition work can start — provided care is taken to look out for bats.

Work is likely to get under way in about two weeks.

Mr Houghton said: “The police have taken a really sensible view, and I am glad I contacted them.

“At the end of the day, there are 40 jobs at stake and a £500,000 investment.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council, which granted planning permission for the Eventura project, said: “Whenever a company applies to knock down a building we remind them that under the Wildlife Act they should make sure there are no protected animals in the building.

“They have gone ahead and had a survey done, but it’s not really our role to get involved at this stage.

“If they knock down the building and bats are there, they could face prosecution.”

Bolton-born Mr Houghton has been running Eventura almost 11 years, and has a varied portfolio with a client list ranging from Umbro, BP, Ping, Ashworth, United Utilities, Shell, Baxi, Callaway Golf and Pringle of Scotland to shoe guru Jimmy Choo. Arbtech refused to comment.

Comments (7)

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11:16am Fri 10 Jan 14

Donkey Stone says...

There are people struggling to get through life and yet we are supposed to worry about "potential" bats. Stop the world, I want to get off.
There are people struggling to get through life and yet we are supposed to worry about "potential" bats. Stop the world, I want to get off. Donkey Stone

1:07pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Waltmeister says...

So with 40 jobs at stake sorted what about the 20-30 car park spaces that they will use on the FREE public car park next door.
So with 40 jobs at stake sorted what about the 20-30 car park spaces that they will use on the FREE public car park next door. Waltmeister

1:09pm Fri 10 Jan 14

cliff4treasurer says...

This whole story sounds batty to me.
This whole story sounds batty to me. cliff4treasurer

7:57pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Ron Ashton says...

A local company decides to show their commitment and make a investment in the town and some people seem to want to throw obstacles in their way - please get a grip.
A local company decides to show their commitment and make a investment in the town and some people seem to want to throw obstacles in their way - please get a grip. Ron Ashton

1:00pm Sat 11 Jan 14

Count de Monet says...

Just wait until somebody reports an alleged sighting of Great Crested Newts in the beer garden.
Just wait until somebody reports an alleged sighting of Great Crested Newts in the beer garden. Count de Monet

10:22pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Cheddy says...

I'm not being clever, Count, but that pub never had a beer garden as far as I know. On a historical note (Caew Yeads were never ones for history) at the back it was a Quoiting Ground (Metal posts and rings to throw at um). 70 years since I met plenty newts of the p***ed variety at yon Guns, but you wouldn't call a pit man that and get away with it pal.
I'm not being clever, Count, but that pub never had a beer garden as far as I know. On a historical note (Caew Yeads were never ones for history) at the back it was a Quoiting Ground (Metal posts and rings to throw at um). 70 years since I met plenty newts of the p***ed variety at yon Guns, but you wouldn't call a pit man that and get away with it pal. Cheddy

2:38pm Wed 29 Jan 14

itmatters says...

The point they have missed is the reasonable effort to ensure that bats are no present. Arbtech are simply advising what the minimum survey effort is to ensure bats are not present in accordance with the Bat Survey Guidelines. The developer could then prove if it ever came to that if a bat was disturbed / injured / killed (and roost destroyed) that they have in fact undertaken reasonable effort to establish presence or absence as we don't all have x-ray eyes to see underneath tiles. As it is if a bat was disturbed then it would now be a deliberate offence. Additionally planning permission should not have been granted without these surveys and the council have now opened themselves up to prosecution as they have not take a protected species into material consideration irrelevant to what the police advise.
The point they have missed is the reasonable effort to ensure that bats are no present. Arbtech are simply advising what the minimum survey effort is to ensure bats are not present in accordance with the Bat Survey Guidelines. The developer could then prove if it ever came to that if a bat was disturbed / injured / killed (and roost destroyed) that they have in fact undertaken reasonable effort to establish presence or absence as we don't all have x-ray eyes to see underneath tiles. As it is if a bat was disturbed then it would now be a deliberate offence. Additionally planning permission should not have been granted without these surveys and the council have now opened themselves up to prosecution as they have not take a protected species into material consideration irrelevant to what the police advise. itmatters

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