The demolition of Holy Trinity Church Hall in Motherwell has been delayed due to fears there could be roosting bats in the building.
The church hasn’t used the hall for six or seven years due to it falling into a state of disrepair that would cost too much to be fixed.
The land has been sold to a developer to build flats with the money being used to safeguard the future of Holy Trinity.
Demolition work was due to start this week, but local residents hope there will be a reprieve for the building after reports of bat sightings.
One resident said: “A few of us have seen bats coming and going. They are protected, and for every one that is harmed or killed, there will be a £5,000 fine.
“There has to be an ecological report carried out before any demolition work can go ahead.
“This is Mothewell’s heritage we’re talking about, it’s hundreds of years old.
“It might be an eyesore to some people, but we live on the street and we love it.”
North Lanarkshire Council says that a protected species survey was carried out at the time of the planning application, in 2010, and no evidence of bats was found in either the hall or surrounding trees.
A council spokesperson said: “Planning permission for the Avon Street flats was granted following an appeal to the Scottish Ministers.
“The survey concluded that there was no reasonable likelihood that bats would roost in the trees, but as a precaution it recommended that the removal of any trees be done by soft felling techniques, and that is a requirement of the planning permission.
“The developers are aware that if they find evidence of bats roosting in the building or trees they must contact Scottish Natural Heritage.”