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‘Bat hotels’ to feature in £70m Forest of Dean plans

The Homes and Communities Agency has agreed to provide “hotels” for bats as part of a £50,000 environmental protection deal within a £70m commercial development proposal in the Forest of Dean.

Forest of Dean District Council has approved the proposals to create new commercial space and improved access to the former Northern United Colliery site and Forest Value Industrial Park.

The decision is expected to create 300 jobs and bring in £11m in investment in the Northern Quarter project, adding to the £60m partners have already secured for Cinderford’s wider regeneration.

A Homes and Communities Agency planning application is set to deliver 11,000 square metres of office space at the Northern site, and two new commercial buildings at Forest Vale Industrial Park.

A separate planning application to deliver the £10.5m Northern Quarter Spine Road project is expected to be made to the district council in June.

Newts, bats, and dormice are among wildlife identified for protection as part of the planning agreements.

Other measures include special lighting for bats and proposals to move other animals to suitable replacement habitats. 

David Warburton, HCA head of area, said: “These are crucially important projects for the Forest of Dean and support the council’s aim to regenerate the area by bringing new employment and investment into the district.  

“I’ve been encouraged, but not at all surprised, by the level of support we have had for the proposals to regenerate the Forest and it’s great news for local people that councillors have approved our plans.

“We are taking all necessary measures to protect wildlife around the development area and will continue to do this during the next phases of work planned for the site.

“We recognise the importance of the heritage of this area and are already taking steps to improve access to the memorial at Northern United. Now that the plans have been approved we will be looking to improve access to the memorial on the site.”

 Detailed design proposals are set to be made once outstanding ecological issues are addressed and wildlife protection measures are in place.

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