DEMOLITION work on a city centre car park had to be halted so police could investigate a seagull nest.

Work to transform Teville Gate car park in Worthing into a hub of apartments and shops began in March.

But it was halted after a campaigner found nests by legally protected herring gulls were at risk of destruction.

Dan Fagan, who lives across from the site near Worthing station, said he noticed gulls nesting on Saturday May 12, and informed the council and the site foreman on Monday 14.

All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This makes it illegal to intentionally injure or kill any gull or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

Dan said: “Adur and Worthing Council have completely neglected their duty to ensure impacts on wildlife are prevented during this demolition work.

“Demolition of the building during the bird nesting season should take account of potential impacts and regular ecological surveys on the site should be conducted.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Shortly after 8.15am on Tuesday May 15, police were informed that workmen were preparing to demolish a building at Teville Gate, Worthing, on which gulls had been seen to be building a nest throughout the preceding week.

“Wildlife officer Sergeant Tom Carter advised that destroying the nest would constitute an offence under the Wildlife Act unless the work had been licensed by Natural England.

“Enquiries were made and it was reported that the site had been granted such a licence for removal or destruction. By mid-morning Friday 18 May the buildings were demolished.”

A spokesman for Adur and Worthing Councils said the council had correctly applied for and received a GL05 licence for the works from the Environment Agency.

The council agreed to consider demolition plans for the long-neglected site at a town hall meeting in September 2017. The car park needed £2 million over four years to keep it fully open.

The £1.6 million demolition cost is being met by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).