Bats delay building of new centre by Chichester canal

Volunteers at Chichester Canal will have to postpone their excitement at transforming an old building into an educational visitors’ hub – because some resident bats won’t budge.

The trust got the thumbs-up to transform the old store building next to the canal, known as The Stables, into a new hub with toilet facilities.

But there are now delays with building works for up to two months because of a group of pipistrelle bats living in the roof.

Chairwoman of the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, Linda Wilkinson, said: “We can’t start until August when the bats fly.

“Bat surveys are being carried out and we have had three visits so far. They’re all living in a small 10ft square part of the building.

“It’s one of the motions we have to go through, but I do find it very interesting. We have just got to work with nature. We wouldn’t want to kick them out in the wet weather.”

Exciting new plans to re-connect Chichester Ship Canal with the sea – which would see boats from all over the world come into the city – were revealed earlier this year.

The Chichester Ship Canal Trust bought the old stable block next to its current temporary mobile home shop at the basin.

It hopes to change the building into offices, a waiting room for those waiting for canal trips, facilities for boat-users, a kitchen, toilets and facilities to create a space to educate people about the canal and its history.

It is also getting a brand new shop.

Mrs Wilkinson added: “We are now hoping the bats will fly. The new shop is not quite ready yet but once it is all done it will look fantastic.

“When we open the harbour and people sail into the city, this building will be the first main centre they reach, where they can find out about Chichester and where to go.”

It will cost around £200,000 to build this new educational hub.

It is hoped the complete transformation of the old workshop and the shop will be completed before Christmas. The plans to open up the harbour are ‘up in the air’ but some of the ideas previously talked about was to build a moving bridge in Donnington and create a lock on the Manhood Peninsula, which will allow boats to enter the canal.

To view the plans for The Stables, quote the planning application reference number CC/12/00961/FUL.