Report by Chief Executive Officer Alistair Cunningham
Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning, Development Management and Investment introduced the report which provided the response to the consultation on the draft Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy Supplementary Planning Document and proposes its adoption.
Cllr Sturgis explained that the landscape surrounding Trowbridge is known to be of high importance for bats, supporting at least 14 of the 18 UK bat species. This includes all four of the rarer UK species listed in the Habitats Directive: greater horseshoe, lesser horseshoe, Bechstein’s and barbastelle bats. In particular, the woodlands to the east and south-east of Trowbridge are known to support an internationally significant breeding population of Bechstein’s bat, linked to the Bath and Bradford-on-Avon Bats Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The Cabinet noted that the Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy (TBMS) has been prepared alongside the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan to provide an effective mitigation strategy for protected bats in terms of recreational pressure and loss of habitat. Its overall aim is to provide a clear approach to considering impacts of development around Trowbridge on the Bath and Bradford-on-Avon Bats SAC in the form of a Supplementary Planning Document. Cllr Sturgis clarified that some figures in the TBMS required updating in response to consultation comments, which would be done for Council.
Cllr Ian Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, welcomed the proposals. In response to a question from Cllr Thorn about the protection of bats and housing developments, Cllr Sturgis provided assurances that the Mitigation Strategy would provide certainty for developers and local communities in terms of how developments and mitigation measures would be guided to ensure the integrity of the SAC and that bat habitats are protected.
1. Notes the response to the consultation on the draft Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy Supplementary Planning Document (the TBMS) set out in the Consultation Statement at Appendix 1 to the report.
2. Endorses the amended TBMS as set out in Appendix 2 to the report.
3. Recommends Full Council that the amended TBMS be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document.
4. Subject to approval of Council, agrees that the Director for Economic Development and Planning in consultation with the Director for Legal, Electoral and Registration Services and the Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning, Development Management and Investment, undertakes the final stages associated with the formal adoption and publication of the TBMS, including any minor textual changes in the interests of clarity and accuracy.
Reason for Proposal(s):
1. To ensure that the TBMS is formally adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to assist the implementation of the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan for development on the housing allocations at Trowbridge, as well as windfall and neighbourhood plan sites in line with the Wiltshire Core Strategy; and
2. To provide guidance to developers on where proposals for housing development would be acceptable and what would constitute acceptable mitigation measures to ensure the integrity of the Bath and Bradford-on-Avon Bats Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is protected and enhanced.