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Aerial view of visualisation of housing on West Car Park site

Plans recommended by council officers for new homes on Zoo-owned car park

Sale of Bristol Zoo Gardens’ West Car Park will provide much-needed city housing. The environmentally-sustainable scheme will also help safeguard the future of Bristol Zoological Society.

Bristol City Council officers have recommended plans for 62 new homes to be built on a Clifton brownfield car park, belonging to Bristol Zoological Society.

The Society applied for planning permission to develop an environmentally-friendly, residential scheme on the site of its West Car Park, in College Road.

Bristol Zoological Society’s plans include high-quality new homes, a mix of one, two and three-bed apartments and three to four-bed mews houses, of which 20 per cent will be affordable in line with Bristol City Council planning policy. 

This is the first phase of Bristol Zoological Society’s new strategy, revealed in November last year, to safeguard the future of the charity and its internationally-important conservation and education work.

The strategy will see the creation of a new Bristol Zoo on the site of Wild Place Project — Bristol Zoological Society’s 136-acre site on the outskirts of Bristol, in 2024.

The new Bristol Zoo will be a world-class zoo with spacious, modern facilities, significant growth in conservation and education work and a ground-breaking, innovative visitor experience.

As part of the plans, the Society’s West Car Park will be sold to help fund the Society’s exciting plans, to ensure that Bristol Zoo continues to exist for generations to come. 

The planning application for the West Car Park is due to be decided by Bristol City Council’s development control committee members on September 22.

Dr Justin Morris, Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: “This is an important step towards realising our exciting plans for the future of Bristol Zoological Society. The sensitive development of the West Car Park site will help achieve our goal of creating a new, world-class Bristol Zoo for everyone in Bristol and beyond. 

“Our scheme for the site acknowledges its setting and context while making use of materials that are sympathetic to the surrounding environment.

“As a wildlife and conservation charity, our plans demonstrate high environmental and sustainable standards and we want to ensure we give a helping hand to local wildlife. We have included bird and bat boxes and bee bricks across the site, soft landscaping, green roofs and wildlife-friendly planting.

“The plans also include using energy-efficient materials and build methods, renewable materials, including mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, and the installation of electric car charging points and plentiful cycle parking provision.”

The proposals have received wide-ranging support, including that of Bristol Civic Society, which commented: “The Civic Society is supportive of this proposal in principle. It makes optimum use of the site which is located within a generally residential area close to The Downs. The proposed land use is appropriate and also makes use of high quality materials.” 

Visit Bristol, which is also in support of plans for selling the land of the current West Car Park, stated: “It will help Bristol Zoological Society to continue to evolve, enabling the progression of its exceptional work in conservation and education, as well as its role as one of the region’s finest visitor attractions.” 

The 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.

This difficult decision was made following years of declining visitor numbers and an inability to meet the changing needs of the animals within the limited space and infrastructure available at Bristol Zoo Gardens — a 186 year old site. 

The devastating impacts of COVID-19 further compounded these challenges, and continue to be felt today.

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 and other key stakeholders.

College Road North
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Bristol Zoo Gardens remains open as normal 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.

The announcement of the Society’s new strategy comes following years of declining visitor numbers to Bristol Zoo Gardens and the organisation having made an operating loss in four of the last six years. Further details will be announced over the coming months, and additional information is available at future.bristolzoo.org.uk and by subscribing to the Bristol Zoo enewsletter.