Bristol Zoological Society - Strategy to 2035

Frequently asked questions – Bristol Zoo Gardens

Please see below a list of frequently asked questions regarding our Bristol Zoo Gardens proposal.

Bristol Zoo Gardens – general

Why are you selling the Bristol Zoo Gardens site? / Moving to the Wild Place Project site?

The move will safeguard the future of Bristol Zoological Society and help protect and improve the lives of the amazing animals, in a new world-class zoo for Bristol and the West of England.

More information on our Strategy to 2035 can be found here.

New Bristol Zoo will ensure future generations of children can come face-to-face with animals in nature, and that the charity continues its critical conservation and education work, to protect at-risk species and habitats.

What are you planning for the Bristol Zoo Gardens site?

We are developing a design for the residential-led scheme for the Clifton site. Up to 235 new homes will be created, located in areas mainly where there are already structures, with a built footprint that is the same as today. The homes are planned to be a range of sizes to encourage a multi-generational community and 20% are proposed to be affordable.

In addition, we will preserve Bristol Zoo Gardens’ legacy, free to public. There will be free access to the 185-year-old gardens, a new, publicly accessible children’s play area and a new Clifton Conservation Hub and café. New life will be given to the gardens’ existing historical features, such as the Monkey Temple building, which will be protected for future generations to enjoy.

How much are you hoping to sell the site for?

It is too early to finalise specific numbers. However, as a charity it is important that the sale of the site allows us to achieve best value and deliver our mission of Saving Wildlife Together. We continue to believe that a residential-led scheme on the Bristol Zoo Gardens site is the best way to do this.

When will we find out more / When will we be able to see detailed plans?

The second phase of the public consultation for the Clifton site is underway. We are inviting people to see the proposals and share their views, at a public event at the Zoo’s Clifton Pavilion on Tuesday, 16 November, and at an online event on 23 November. A third public consultation will take place in early 2022 and will include artist’s impressions of the homes.

What are the timelines / when will work begin?

A third public consultation will take place in early 2022 and include artist’s impressions of the homes. In autumn 2022 Bristol Zoo Gardens will close to the public, before a sale of the site in 2023 and the start of construction in 2024. Wild Place Project will remain open throughout, until it becomes the new Bristol Zoo in 2024.

How can I get involved?

Information on how and when you can get involved will be shared on an ongoing basis and will be located on our ‘Get involved page’. Sign up to our enewsletter for updates.

Bristol Zoo Gardens – plans

How long will the gardens be open daily?

We are proposing free public access to the gardens during daylight hours (timings tbc).

Won’t having event space on site encourage parties, late night drinking, and increased noise?

The event space will primarily be used in the day, to ensure we protect the legacy of the zoo and preserve public access. It will:

  • Provide a space for public exhibitions, where we can celebrate the history and heritage of Bristol Zoo Gardens
  • Offer updates on our ongoing conservation work in the UK and abroad
  • Be available for local community groups to hire and conservation groups to use

In addition, the café will be available on Friday and Saturday evenings for private hire and will be licensed for the sale of alcohol for early evening events. This is the same as today and we do not anticipate increased noise.

How many residences will there be on site (number of apartments and houses)?

Up to 235 new homes will be created, located in areas where there are already mainly built structures, ensuring the same built footprint area as today. The homes are planned to be a range of sizes to encourage a multi-generational community and 20% are proposed to be affordable.

How will up to 235 residences and an event space affect parking?

As the site will no longer be a major visitor attraction there will fewer people arriving by car. As a residential-led scheme with a public park accessible during the daytime, our plans will reduce parking pressures in the surrounding area.

Most vehicles on site will park in undercroft parking spaces and will therefore be out of view. In addition, electric charging points and bicycle storage facilities will be provided to encourage the use of green transportation.

How many trees will be lost?

Our plans work around the site’s high-value trees, and include the findings of extensive health checks and root surveys. Some tree removal will be required but only undertaken where necessary to enable the scheme as a whole. Passionate about nature, we will plant two trees for every tree we need to remove. High-grade trees will be kept intact. New landscaping and work to improve the soil will boost the site’s biodiversity.

What about the legacy of Bristol Zoo Gardens?

We will work preserve Bristol Zoo Gardens legacy, free to public. Free access will be provided to the 185-year-old gardens, a new, publicly accessible children’s play area and a new Clifton Conservation Hub and café. The plans will also ensure the site’s historical buildings are protected.

What is the Clifton Conservation Hub?

The iconic Zoo entrance building will become the Clifton Conservation Hub – a public café with indoor and outdoor seating, exhibition space, education and meeting spaces, and home to the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project. It will be the Project’s base from which they will run courses, walks, talks, school events, play schemes, and holiday activities.

Why don’t you open a new visitor attraction or venue at the Clifton site instead?

As part of our extensive strategic review in 2020, we explored other options for the Clifton site, which included other types of visitor attraction and different types of zoos. Working with professional advisors we do not believe that any will be viable or sustainable over the long-term on the Clifton site.

Our World

Have you been involved in developing the OurWorld Bristol concept?

No, in May 2021 a concept was launched by an independent group of people for an alternative future for the Bristol Zoo Gardens site involving an augmented reality experience, called OurWorld Bristol. We have received a range of proposals for the site from interested parties including the OurWorld concept.

What is Bristol Zoological Society’s response to the OurWorld proposal?

As a charity it is important that the sale of our site allows us to achieve best value and deliver our mission of Saving Wildlife Together. We continue to believe that a residential-led scheme on the Bristol Zoo Gardens site is the best way to do this.

This move will protect the legacy of Bristol Zoo Gardens, while helping to protect and improve the lives of the amazing animals, in a new world-class zoo for Bristol and the West of England.

New Bristol Zoo will ensure future generations of children can come face-to-face with animals in nature, and that the charity continues its critical conservation and education work, to protect at-risk species and habitats.