Plan to build nearly 200 homes on former Bristol Zoo site one step closer to approval

A computer-generated image of what the development would look like Credit: Bristol Zoological Society

A plan for nearly 200 new homes on the former Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton is one step closer to approval.

Officers at Bristol City Council have recommended the proposed development for approval, the Bristol Zoological Society announced today (18 April).

The plans include building 196 new homes - 20 per cent of them "affordable" - and providing free public access to the gardens for the first time since the zoo opened in 1836.

Bristol Zoological Society plans to sell the 12-acre site to help fund the creation of a new zoo at its Wild Place Project on the outskirts of Bristol.

It will offer spacious, modern facilities, significant growth in conservation and education work and an innovative visitor experience, the charity said today.

Bristol Zoological Society originally lodged a planning application in May 2022, before revising and resubmitting it in late October 2022 after feedback from Bristol City Council, Historic England and Design West.

If the plans are passed, the site become accessible to the public, with daytime access for leisure and recreation, and curated events in the evenings.

The Grade II-listed entrance lodge will be kept by the society, offering a café, exhibition space, community rooms and public toilets, and providing a permanent base for the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project.

A CGI of what the north of the site could look like Credit: Bristol Zoological Society

A nature-inspired play area and theatre are included in the plans, and these facilities are not currently available in the vicinity of the site.

Homes will range in size to encourage different generations to live there and 20 percent will be affordable.

In response to feedback received, further improvements in the resubmitted plans include enhancements to the entrances to the site to encourage greater public access and the addition of a pedestrian-only entrance along College Road.

They also included a reduction in the height of the proposed extension to the Clock Tower building and improvements to the design of the apartment blocks along Clifton Down.

Dr Justin Morris, chief executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: "We are really confident in our plans and the quality of the design proposals we have submitted.

"As well as delivering sustainable, much-needed homes for Bristol, our plans for Bristol Zoo Gardens secure the site as a public park, a community asset, so everyone can enjoy its beauty and heritage for many years to come."

In response to the plans, Historic England said: "The ability for visitors to enter the site, free of charge, post-redevelopment, is a significant heritage benefit.

"Generally, Historic England finds much to admire in the proposed development, which we feel on the whole is a sensitive response to its historic context.”

A separate planning application for 62 new homes on the West Car Park, a Clifton brownfield site belonging to Bristol Zoological Society was approved by councillors in November last year.