Bristol Zoo: New plans featuring historic gardens and housing unveiled by zoo owners

Take a first look at what Bristol Zoo Gardens could look like if plans to open the site to the public go ahead

Bristol Zoo Gardens has outlined their plans for the site to be opened to the public as the attraction prepares to leave the city after 185 years.

Free access to the gardens, a children’s play area and a new Clifton Conservation Hub and café are included in proposals being put forward by Bristol Zoological Society, which runs Bristol Zoo Gardens, for the 12-acre site.

It comes after Bristol Zoo announced last year that the Clifton site would be sold and the zoo would move into the Wild Place Project, near junction 17 of the M5 in South Gloucestershire.

The charity said that its plans will ensure the site’s buildings are protected and include a mix of ‘sustainable, high-quality, much-needed housing with the same level of space for people and nature as today’.

It added that the 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.

An aerial view of the Bristol Zoo Gardens should the plans go ahead.

But the Society is up against Our World Bristol which have lodged alternative proposals for the world’s first augmented reality zoo at the site.

The fate of the Gardens is expected to be decided in the new year.

Dr Justin Morris, chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said the society’s plans would make the gardens ‘more accessible than ever before’.

“Bristolians and visitors to the city can come and enjoy the gardens, play area, lake, natural wildlife, and heritage buildings,” Dr Morris added.

Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society Dr Justin Morris.

“After occupying the site for 186 years, we’ll create a legacy for Bristol Zoo Gardens, making it free for the public, while protecting and improving the lives of the amazing animals in a new world-class Bristol Zoo.”

What is the Bristol Zoological Society proposing?

The latest draft masterplan by the society shows up to 235 new homes will be created of which 20 per cent are proposed to be affordable homes. The homes are planned to be a range of sizes to encourage a multi-generational community.

New life will also be given to the gardens’ existing historical features, such as the Monkey Temple building.

The lake would be made accessible to the public.

The 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.

The current theatre building on the main lawn of the gardens will also be retained, providing cultural and educational talks, workshops, and seasonal events.

Prasad Sunand, principal architect at Penoyre & Prasad.

Sunand Prasad, co-founder of Penoyre and Prasad, the architects leading the design for the site, added: “Bristol Zoo Gardens has a fantastic heritage, a wonderful landscape, and a special place in people’s hearts.

“The proposals reflect this. They provide beautiful public spaces and much-needed homes, in harmony with the natural world.”

What are the next steps?

The second phase of the public consultation for the Clifton site is underway.

Bristol Zoological Society is inviting people to see the proposals and share their views, at a public event at the Zoo’s Clifton Pavilion on Tuesday, November 16, and at an online event on November 23.

The zoo’s entrance would become the Clifton Conservation Hub and house a cafe.

A third public consultation will take place in early 2022 and include an artists’ impressions of the homes.

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