Surrey County Hall Penrhyn Road 20/02462

Surrey County Council (SCC) proposes the repurposing of Surrey County Hall and associated buildings to create a mix of refurbishment and potential partial demolition to include a mixed-use development, including approximately 500 new residential units, additional space for new courts for the Crown Court, office space, shops or financial/professional services and car park.They have submitted an EIA scoping document which omits all of the ecological features at the site.

Unfortunately, the documents for application cannot be viewed on the councils website. Two docs seen from the "EIA METHODOLOGY AND SCOPE" state that the ecological features were proposed to be 'out of scope' given little supposedly present in terms of biodiversity. I object to this on the grounds of European Protected Species known to roost nearby and two species of birds scheduled under the WCA 1981 associated with the site.

The PEA mentioned undertaking bat roost surveys at some point in future but that should be presented now as there is case law that states that protected species information should be presented early so that the mitigation forms part of the Design.

The additions of storeys to one of the most important buildings on this approach to Kingston should not occur on architectural grounds but also because any bat roosts have not been accounted for. There is a bat roost a short distance from this site (also a development site) which was reported to a planning officer earlier in the year. This increases the likelihood of finding bats using nearby buildings and structures.

The PEA did not mention that there are two Schedule 1 birds associated with County Hall and there are records of peregrine falcon and black redstart using the building. I posted photographs of both birds on my blog. The black redstarts particularly enjoy the berries on a chusan palms at the front of County Hall in the Autumn.

Green walls  are not going to improve biodiversity come and see the one we have in Hamden road and suggest what ecological benefits there might be; birds cannot nest in it, there are no earthworms to be extracted or insects to feed on as there is no web of life generated the species chosen which are people-pleasers. For sure, it uses litres and litres of precious water, much of which ends up down the drain. I wish people would stop allowing bird boxes, it is pointless if there is no habitat to provide food, and the boxes are never apparent post development or only last a couple of years.

The trees require CAVAT assessments, some are protected by TPOs. Arboricultural aspects are proposed as being not necessary to scope now but the applicant is already proposing to fell 3 trees and these are part of the reason there are so many birds associated with the site. As such I object to ecological aspects being left out of the EIA scope.

I would urge strongly that the EIA cope includes arboriculture and biodiversity so there is a baseline to argue from and to ensure real biodiversity and ecological improvements, as well as retaining existing wildlife.


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