Bristol Zoo development: Plan for hundreds of homes and public park on iconic site revealed

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

Plans for more than 200 homes and a public park on the site of Bristol Zoo in Clifton have been revealed.

Bristol Zoo will close next year after 185 years at the Clifton site. Instead the zoo will move its operation to the Wild Place Project in South Gloucestershire.

The charity which runs the zoo wants to sell it for housing and has revealed plans for 235 homes at the site.

As part of the proposal, the grounds will remain open to the public with the creation of a large public park.

The plans also include a conservation hub, an exhibition space, a children's play area and a lake.

The charity says a fifth of the homes built will be "affordable" or below the usual market rate.

But critics have said because they will be in one of the most exclusive parts of Bristol and will remain beyond the reach of most people.

The central gardens of the new development will offer free public access, according to the zoo's trustees Credit: Bristol Zoo

Chief Executive of the Bristol Zoological Society Dr Justin Morris said: "We're absolutely clear that the residential-led scheme is the right option for the future of this site.

"It's the right option in terms of raising the sums of money from the site to be able to invest in the charity and safeguard our future."

He added: "The 20 percent (affordable homes) would be contracted to ensure that that is what gets delivered."

The zoo says the move is vital to "safeguard the future" of the organisation amid declining visitor numbers and losses experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, those behind ideas for an 'augmented reality zoo' say they're serious about making an offer for the historic site.

OurWorld Bristol say they would bring a one million acre zoo to a 12-acre site Credit: OurWorld Bristol

A representative of the OurWorld Bristol project - which wants to convert the site into a 'new resource for discovery through immersive experiences' - said the housing proposal lacks ambition.

Stuart Woods added: "'Affordable' is a slightly disingenuous term in property development. It generally means 75-80% of market value and the market value of a home in Clifton is unaffordable to probably 95% of the population.

"We want to make Bristol a world leader, not only in augmented reality technology, but  actually in the future of how people interact with animals. It's been said that maybe the future of zoos is more along these lines than what we have currently."

It is a vision backed campaigners, who recently had the location declared an asset of community value.

Christopher Jefferies of the Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society said: "The zoo will have to offer the site, first of all, to the community before they offer it to anybody else.

"That means we hope it's very much more likely that the OurWorld project will be able to put in their own bid successfully."

  • People can view the proposals and share their views at the zoo's Clifton Pavilion on Tuesday 16 November and at an online event on Tuesday 23 November.