Bat 'hotel' created at £27m Freeman's Reach development in Durham

A major Durham City development is including a "hotel" for around 100 bats which inhabit the surrounding area

Project Manager Ian Beaumont in the ‘Bat Hotel’
Project Manager Ian Beaumont in the ‘Bat Hotel’

A major new riverside development is making provision for guests who specialise in doing a moonlight flit.

The developers of the £27m Freeman’s Reach scheme in Durham City have created a bat “hotel” in the base of the complex.

It has been provided for the Daubentons bats which inhabit the area surrounding the development.

The concrete and masonry structure, which will be buried beneath an area of the development next to the riverbank, will accommodate around 100 bats.

It has two openings that will emerge from the riverbank, which allow the Daubentons to fly around in their roost prior to emerging. The “hotel” has been designed so that if flooding occurs the bats can escape from the upper opening.

The new accommodation will complement existing bat boxes installed below Milburngate Bridge by the developers in partnership with Durham County Council and those put into retained trees on site.

Freeman’s Reach is on Durham City’s riverside near Walkergate and the first phase will create new offices for National Savings and Investment.


Work began last year and will be completed by 2015.

Phase two of the project will have the capacity to retain or attract in the region of 800 jobs for Durham City.

In addition to providing high quality office space, Freeman’s Reach will feature a small riverside restaurant and kiosk provision,.

One of the highlights of the new development will be a new tree-lined walk, which, for the first time, will open up the riverside for visitors .

Phase one will feature an Archimedean screw-powered hydro-turbine, which will generate enough energy to power 75% of the development’s requirements.

The developers, a partnership between Carillion Developments, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP are keen to take the opportunity to improve the bio-diversity at the site and ensure it is ecologically responsible.

As well as the bat roosting facilities the development also features other ecological installations.

Stabilization work has been carried out on the riverbank which will also provide otters with shelves that allow easier passage along the waterway and holts for temporary resting or breeding.

The developers have also installed a fish pass by incorporating rest pools.

It will include a fish counter which not only records numbers, but can differentiate species, with the information passed via a telecom link to the Environment Agency.

Ian Beaumont, project director of the Freeman’s Reach Development, said: “The bat hotel is a very impressive structure and will be as effective as possible for the conservation of the Daubentons and attracting a larger population.

“It was very important for us to include considerations for wildlife during the design and development of the site.”


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