CHURCH bats are to be tackled by borough chiefs seeking to build a new multi-million-pound doctors’ surgery in Basingstoke.

Proposals to move South Ham Surgery to improved facilities on the site of St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Western Way, have been hit by delays after the discovery of a bat colony at the church and difficulties with car parking facilities.

Bats have legal protection and cannot be moved during their winter hibernation.

But officers have reworked the proposals, and a revised set of plans will go on display for public viewing tomorrow.

The borough council is putting up £3.2million to knock down the church and build a new health centre on the site along with a replacement church.

It intends to recoup the money by leasing the surgery building back to the doctors, a dentist and pharmacist.

The GPs say they want to complete the move as quickly as possible.

Doctors say cracks have started to show at their Paddock Road premises in South Ham, and that essential maintenance work has been put off as staff believed they would be moving.

The Paddock Road surgery, together with another in Moorhams Avenue, Hatch Warren, is run by Dr Hudson and Partners, which has more than 11,000 patients on its list.

Practice manager Anne Phillips told The Gazette she is cautiously pleased the scheme is at last moving forward.

She said: “It’s true to say we are measuring our expectations because we have been trying to do this for 10 years.

“We will be happy once there is a hole in the ground.

“The issues around parking seem to be resolved and we could move in by December of January next year.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s interim head of property services Patricia Hughes said: “There will be full consultation on these changes with those residents who were consulted on the original proposal.

“We have carried out a bat survey and this is one of the reasons why we are not able to carry out work during the winter roosting period.

“However, we do not believe this will have a significant impact on the delivery of the medical centre for South Ham.”

Residents can view the plans at St Andrew’s Church from 2.30pm to 7.30pm on January 7.