Ecologists are to comb the site of a former Heath and Reach garage for slow worms to allow developers to build 14 new homes there.
Conservation experts will search the former Heath Motors site on Woburn Road by hand for the protected species after surveys of the site discovered a small population nesting there.
According to a report by Philip Irving, a senior ecologist with the Greensand Trust, the 2010 survey of the site found 27 slow worms and it is believed that the species use the area for refuge and breeding.
Vegetation and debris used as shelter by the reptiles will be removed and the site will be cleared and skimmed from the centre outwards, allowing slow worm to escape to surrounding vegetation while work continues. Any reptiles that are found will be moved to a purpose built hibernaculum to the north of the site.
Under UK law, it is illegal to deliberately harm or kill slow worms, common lizards and snakes. Slow worms, also known as anguis fragilis, breed in May and hibernate between October and March. Although they resemble small snakes, slow worm are in fact legless lizards. Work to remove them can only take place outside of the hibernation period and when there is no heavy rain or strong winds.