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Bats halt work on plunge pool at Hampstead des-res

Planning inspector refuses to grant consent for sauna building

19 February, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Pipestrelle bat [Photo: Barracuda1983]

DES-RES work to install a plunge pool and sauna at one of Hampstead’s most striking homes could be stopped amid concerns it will disturb protected bats.

Planning inspector Graham Chamberlain refused to grant permission for the add-ons at Kebony House – a £3million bungalow which had design aficionados drooling when it was completed behind a Victorian mansion block three years ago.

Camden Council had already refused to grant consent for work to begin on the new outbuildings.

Mr Chamberlain said he could not overturn that decision because the applicants had failed to provide a full bat survey. “Without it,” his verdict published last week said, “there is an unacceptable risk that the proposal could harm bats.”

Mr Chamberlain had heard that the presence of pipistrelle bats had been recorded in the area, with an ecologist warning that the new structures and lighting “may interrupt feeding and that tree works could affect roosting bats”.

Bats and their breeding sites are protected by law and disturbing them with construction work can lead to fines and even prison sentences. Protection measures for bats were beefed up in the 1990s as trends showed rapidly declining populations of pipistrelles.

Although a source of divided opinion before it was built among neighbours, Kebony House has been considered by architecture critics as a mini-masterpiece, hidden away behind Oak Hill House.

Its name derives from the wood cladding, which has more familiarly been used in the yacht building industry but is now considered a stylish finish for bespoke homes. There had been no new objections from neighbours in relation to the new sauna and plunge pool proposals.

Agents for the property’s owners said in their appeal documents they were happy for a bat survey to be part of any conditional planning consent, but Mr Chamberlain said he would not give the green light until he had seen the results.

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