Bristol Zoological Society has outlined further plans for its West Car Park site in Clifton, ahead of this week’s Bristol City Council planning hearing on Wednesday (September 22).
The Society is proposing the development of an environmentally-friendly, residential development of 62 homes, which includes 20% affordable housing, on the brownfield site, which will both address the city’s housing crisis and safeguard the future of the 186-year-old charity.
Bristol Zoological Society has led the plans for the new development on College Road to ensure it leaves a legacy it can be proud of ‒ setting a standard of environmental sustainability that exceeds that required of new housing, creating much-needed homes for people and for wildlife.
Bristol City Council Development Control Committee Members will vote on the proposal, which is recommended by the planning officer for approval, on Wednesday afternoon.
The proposal is an exemplar in sustainability, with measures including air source pumps, high levels of thermal insulation and energy efficiency, electric car-charging points, and secure space for 151 bicycles.
The proposal includes green roofs, living walls, bird and bat boxes and additional habitat for invertebrates including native shrubs and a wildflower lawn.
“As a responsible charity we have had to make some difficult decisions in order to safeguard our future after an incredibly challenging number of years, and to ensure an exciting new future for Bristol Zoo at our Wild Place Project site, for everyone in Bristol and beyond,” explained Dr Justin Morris, Chief Executive at Bristol Zoological Society.
“Our decision to sell the Bristol Zoo Gardens site, and the adjacent West Car Park in College Road, was not one that we took lightly but to ensure a future for Bristol Zoological Society, we have to sell some of our assets, with the sale of West Car Park being the first phase.
“There is a huge under-supply of housing in Bristol. New homes are needed in all parts of the city, including affordable homes, to address the housing crisis. We care what happens to our sites, which is why we are leading the planning application for these developments ourselves.
“We want to support the city’s ambition for more homes, spur economic growth, and create new examples of sustainable living.
“It means we will be able to create a new, world-class Bristol Zoo at our Wild Place Project site and continue to deliver and expand our conservation and education work both in the UK and overseas, allowing us to continue leading the way as a modern conservation and education charity whilst inspiring the next generation of conservationists.”
In a Committee Report, published on Tuesday 14 September, which recommended approval for the West Car Park application, the planning officer stated: “The application site is a previously developed site, considered to be a sustainable location for development, with good access to shops, services and public access routes.”
This difficult decision to close Bristol Zoo Gardens was made following years of declining visitor numbers and an inability to meet the needs of the animals within the limited space and infrastructure available at Bristol Zoo Gardens ‒ a 185-year-old site.
The devastating impact of COVID-19 further compounded these challenges, and continues to be felt today.
Bristol Zoological Society is currently at an early consultation stage with stakeholders to help inform its separate plans for the site of Bristol Zoo Gardens which will also be sold as part of the Society’s ambitious strategy.
A separate planning application relating to the main Bristol Zoo Gardens site will be submitted in early 2022 following extensive consultation by Bristol Zoological Society with its local neighbours, Bristol residents, and other key stakeholders.
Bristol Zoo Gardens remains open until late 2022 and visitors will not see an immediate change before it closes to the public. Wild Place Project will remain open throughout, until it becomes the new Bristol Zoo in 2024.
Further details will be announced over the coming months, and additional information is available at future.bristolzoo.org.uk and by subscribing to the enewsletter.