Bats Could Be Living At Mordern Tavern

Environment body recommends surveys

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Bats could be living at the empty Morden Tavern, which is facing a controversial planning application to build retail units, flats, houses and maisonettes on the site.

A report by public environment body, Natural England, following a survey in September, states: "The presence of bats has been indicated". It recommends further surveys in May, which is a more optimum time for bat-spotting.

The plans, submitted by developers Reef Estates, were due to be heard by Merton Borough Council on December 8, but the application was removed from the agenda.

Natural England points out, in a letter to the council, that a circular from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister states: "It is essential that the presence or otherwise of protected species, and the extent that they may be affected by the proposed development, is established before the planning permission is granted, otherwise all relevant material considerations may not have been addressed in making the decision."

The Campaign for Mordern Tavern (CMT), which was formed to fight the plans, has said there are enough new homes being added to the St Helier estate and the pub was an important social facility.

The building in Central Road, Morden, was also 'locally listed' by the council in 2010 as a typical period building, designed by highly-regarded architect Sir Harry Redfern.

Earlier this month the Local Government Ombudsman said it would not be taking any action against Merton Borough Council over its role in the decision to sell the freehold of the pub.

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December 12, 2011