Bristol Zoo: Planning application for 201 homes at Clifton site lodged for approval - layout revealed

New layout images for the site show where the homes wl be located across the house

Plans to build hundreds homes at Bristol Zoo Gardens have been lodged as the attraction prepares to move out of the city after 186 years.

The Bristol Zoological Society (BZS) plans to sell off the 12-acre site in Clifton to help fund the creation of a new Bristol Zoo at its Wild Place Project just off the M5 in South Gloucestershire.

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How the new site would be laid out if the planning application submitted this week is given the green light.

Under the plans submitted, the Society also wants to make the gardens accessible to the public for free, for the first time since they opened in 1836.

Separate proposals will also see 201 new homes built at the site, housed in a mixture of modern new apartment blocks along with some of the zoo’s historic buildings such as the Clifton Pavillion.

An artist’s impression of the new homes that could be built on the historic site.

The ‘masterplan’ has been nearly two years in the making after the BZS announced its Clifton site would close for good in November 2020.

Speaking to BristolWorld last year, the Society’s director of transformation Francesca Fryer said that the zoo had to move as a result of ‘persistent challenges’ running over decades even before the pandemic began.

Plan shows the Giraffe House, Parrot House and Museum are among the building to stay

It is hoped that the move will provide a better environment for the hundreds of species of animal BSZ look after, more closely reflecting their natural habitats, while allowing its ‘vital’ conservation work across the globe to continue.

What’s included in the planning application?

As well as opening Bristol Zoo Gardens to the public, the Society is also keen to preserve and protect its much-loved historic features at the site, such as the Monkey Temple and the former Bear Pit.

The Clifton Pavillion is one of the site’s historic buildings that will be turned into homes if the plans go ahead.

It said that much of the gardens will remain unchanged, with improvements to the lake, the creation of a new, free nature-inspired play area, and a space for community events in the Terrace Theatre building.

A new cafe and exhibition space will be created in the iconic zoo entrance building and cultural, educational and community events will ‘ensure the local community and visitors use the site’.

Some of the zoo’s much loved features such as its Monkey Temple would be preserved and restored under the plans.

Other plans include the creation of 201 ‘high-quality, much-needed new homes’, located mainly in areas where there are already built structures such as the Clifton Pavillion.

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

The homes will be made up apartments which will line the northern, eastern and southern borders of the site. There will also be four-storey ‘lake houses’ with gardens and vehicle parking forming a semi-circle within the site.

The heights of the new buildings will range from two-storoey to six, rising to the north of the site.

Among the buildings to stay and be refurbished for housing are the pavilion, parrott house, girafe house. The Bear Pit, aviary and Monkey Temple will be restored.

Dr Justin Morris, Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: “This is an important milestone and an exciting step forward for the future of Bristol Zoological Society.

Bristol Zoological Society’s chief executive Dr Justin Morris.

“We are confident in our plans and proud of the ambition and quality of the design proposals we have submitted.”

“Importantly, these plans will secure the site as a vital community asset, so everyone can enjoy its beauty and heritage for many years to come.”

What happened to OurWorld Bristol’s counter-proposal?

Last year OurWorld Bristol launched acounter-proposal for a ‘virtual reality zoo’at the site after the Clifton Hotwells and Improvement Society successfully applied for it to become an Asset of Community of Value.

At a meeting to discuss any concerns over the plans with residents in March, it was revealed that because the site is listed as such, the community would have the opportunity to ‘buy’ the site back for its own use.

Visitors to the virtual zoo would wear headsets, allowing them to walk along realistic wild animals and dinosaurs.

Similar schemes have been seen at the Great Goram Pub in Lawrence Weston along with the Jubilee Pool in Knowle, and Ms Fryer said at the meeting that she understood OurWorld Bristol were considering it.

BristolWorld has contacted OurWorld Bristol for an upate on their plans but has not yet received a response.

When will the existing zoo close?

Bristol Zoo Gardens’ final public open day will be on Saturday, September.

Before this, a series of events will take place - visit for more information.

An artist’s impression of what the new apartment blocks built at the site could look like. 20 per cent of the new homes will be ‘affordable’.

The Wild Place Project is set to remain open to visitors while the new Bristol Zoo is constructed.

The full planning application can be viewed on the Bristol City Council Planning Portal.