Bristol Zoo: New images and details emerge on plans for 12-acre Clifton site

More than 200 homes are planned - but areas including the theatre and main lawn will remain for community use

New images showing what could become of Bristol Zoo Gardens when the zoo moves out later this year have been released - with its chief executive vowing to make it a valuable community asset for generations to come.

Bosses at Bristol Zoological Society plan to bring the zoo’s 186-year-old history at the site in Clifton to end in September, with society selling the 12-acre site for homes set in its gardens to provide an added income source.

Today, more details of its plans and new images on the current site were issued by the society. The plans include 206 homes and the keeping the theatre and main lawn area for community and education activities.

Meanwhile, a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating will be opened at the zoo’s iconic entrance building.

Artist impression of a play area proposed at the zoo site

Plans are also being considered for a public art trail featuring new sculptures and displays for both permanent and temporary exhibits.

Society chief executive Dr Justin Morris said: “This is our legacy, a lasting gift to the community of Bristol, which we know will be welcomed and enjoyed by generations of people now and well into the future.”

While the plans for homes at the site will be submitted to Bristol City Council in the Spring, here is what else the society says will feature:

· More entrances to ensure that the award-winning gardens are easy for people to reach

· Monkey Temple, the Aviary and Bear Pit will be restored with new planting and seating

· A new publicly accessible children’s playground

· The creation of the Clifton conservation hub, providing learning spaces and programmes for and by local community groups

One of the entrances to the Clifton site as proposed by Bristol Zoological Society

Dr Morris said: “This is a special place in all our hearts. It has always brought people and wildlife together and it will continue to do that.

“It will still be a destination for Bristolians. It will be a place for the local community, visitors and residents to meet and as we announced before Christmas, the gardens will be open to everyone free of charge for the first time ever.”

The lake, around which the walled gardens are laid out, will be enhanced to improve the habitat for amphibians and fish, the society also said. Plus the majority of high grade trees will remain, with new landscaping to improve their health.

View of the lake as proposed for Bristol Zoo Gardens

Our World Bristol launched a counter-attack on these plans last year and want to create a ‘virtual reality zoo’ at the site, but the society has insisted its strategy the best way to safeguard the zoo’s future for generations amid declining visitor numbers.

The society has organised a series of public consultation and exhibition events.

A drop-in event is being held between 3pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, 24 March at Bristol Zoo Gardens’ Clifton Pavilion on College Road.