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Wildlife holds up new homes plan

RARE birds and bats have held up the redevelopment of the derelict Royal Sea Bathing Hospital at Margate into luxury flats.

A dDecision on a planning application to convert the part listed building, which was sold last year for more than the £600,000 asking price, has been temporarily deferred.

Wildlife experts say that the Turnstone, a rare seabird, congregate in the grounds of the old building and they want to make sure a part of the site is set aside so they will continue to flock to this section of the coast and that they will not be disturbed.

It is also understood that a colony of bats may be living in the ruins and a survey will be carried out before work on the development goes ahead.

Ward councillor Iris Johnston said: “It is excellent news that this development will be under way soon. The council has worked closely with English Nature and the developers on the wildlife issue and we are keen that all parties are satisfied before planning permission is finally granted.”

She is also concerned about the pressure on local schools by more children coming into the area as families occupy the flats.

She said: “The county education authority suggests that the number of children coming into the area and living at the flats could generate demand for an extra 56 primary and 23 secondary placements. Our local classrooms are bursting at the seams and I am sure it will be difficult finding placements.

Cllr Johnston is also keen that the statue of benefactor Erasmus Wilson remains in the grounds of the hospital as part of the development.

The proposal is for a four and five storey building for apartments, conversion of the chapel and mortuary to more homes, construction of a three-storey building onto the main road frontage for three shop units and residential accommodation above. The total number of apartments in the complex would be 152, with ancillary parking space.

The existing lodge would remain as a gatehouse and the nurses home will not be included in this development.

Thanet council's planning director Trevor Herron has been given delegated powers to award planning permission once the bird park and the bat survey has been completed.

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