Bid to demolish Beer community building to pave way for social housing is shelved – after bats are found living on plot

Plans to demolish a former community hub in Beer so social housing can be built on the plot have been shelved – after bats were found living there.

Proposals to knock down Beer Social Club, in Berry Hill, were submitted in July after the venue shut last year.

Beer Community Land Trust stated in its application it wanted to use the land for up to seven new dwellings as part of a social housing development for the village.

It said the ‘run-down’ premises had ‘deteriorated significantly’ over the years and was of no architectural merit.

However, the trust informed East Devon District Council (EDDC) this week that it has withdrawn the application.

An ecology report as part of the bid revealed a roost for protected bats was found in part of the building – but this would not necessarily scupper any development.

Beer Social Club in Berry Hill. Picture: Google Maps

Beer Social Club in Berry Hill. Picture: Google Maps

Richard Green Ecology Ltd carried out surveys in January, May and June this year. It reported that demolition of the building would result in the loss of a common pipistrelle hibernation roost and a lesser horseshoe bat night roost.

It advised Beer Community Land Trust would need a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) from Natural England to proceed with the project.

The report said the roost would need to be recreated in any new development – but that there were other havens for bats nearby in the interim.

“It is considered that the proposal would have no significant impact on the conservation status of lesser horseshoe bat or the integrity of Beer Quarry and Caves,” concluded the report.

The single-storey Beer Social Club is in the centre of the village’s conservation area and is cut into the steeply-sloping plot.

Land on which the social club is built was originally donated to survivors of World War One for housing.

The venue had been continually used as a social club since the 1960s and an extension to provide a skittle alley was approved in 1982.

Plans for the now-shelved demolition stated: “The club has gradually become less popular over the last 10 years and closed its doors around 12 months ago.

“The club has become very run-down and would be impossible to reuse in any future development due to the existence of asbestos and the poor construction which has deteriorated significantly over the years.”

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