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Kearsney Abbey flush with bats!

Demolition of the former toilet block in Kearsney Abbey is underway in advance of the opening of the new café extension and improved visitor facilities this spring at Dover’s most popular public park.

Funded by the National Lottery as part of the £3.1m Kearsney Parks project, the new café extension includes brand new male and female toilets, along with a Changing Places facility for people with profound and multiple disabilities.  This includes an adjustable adult-size changing bench and tracking hoist system.

Jenny Coller, Dover District Council’s project manager, said: “A key aim of the Kearsney Parks project is to improve the visitor experience and to make it easier for local people and those with disabilities to access and enjoy both Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens.”

In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, construction work on the café was delayed when a colony of up to 100 predominantly Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), and Common Pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) were discovered roosting in the roof space of the old toilet block!

Working with the project’s ecologists, the Kearsney Parks team set about a careful conservation project so as not to disturb the bats.  As part of the project new habitats have been created for the bats, including a replica bat shelter, and permanent bat boxes at various locations in the park. This mitigation has been done in line with the relevant legislation, conservation regulations, and planning conditions.

Jenny Coller said: “Preserving and enhancing the rich diversity of the parks has been foremost throughout the project.  We’ve worked closely with our ecologists and licensed bat workers to ensure the project has provided multiple new, suitable roosts to keep the bat population thriving at Kearsney.”

. Keep-me-posted.