The presence of protected animals may scupper plans to build 24 homes.

A Mr M Dick has asked permission from Epping Forest District Council to build on Gypsey Mead Works on Ongar Road, Ongar.

The development would see a mix of 24 houses and apartments built along with car parking and cycling facilities.

The site is previously unused aside from the now demolished Gypsy Mead Restaurant, which was closed after suffering significant fire damage.

The remote location on the outskirts of Fyfield would appear perfect for development were in not for the presence of protected species.

An ecological report found the site tree's had “moderate levels of bat roosting potential” and an active badger set has been identified.

A badger’s set is a network of tunnels and entrances, some spacious enough to accommodate up to 15 animals.

Both creatures are protected by law, with all bat species are strictly protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and badgers afforded safety under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

The report suggests that: "In order to maintain and enhance bat habitat, it is advised that boundary, tree and hedgerow retention be maximised as part of any future proposed layout.”

It also recommends that: “Bat considerate lighting scheme for both the construction site and the completed development” should be used.

The survey also found that a number of trees within te site are protected by the council and that the site offers potentially suitable reptile habitat.