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Bristol Zoo Gardens Plans To Open Its Historic Grounds To The Public For Free Once The Site Is Sold

Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd - Staff Writer

Bristol Zoo Gardens Plans To Open Its Historic Grounds To The Public For Free Once The Site Is Sold

The 185-year-old gardens filled with wildlife will be free to roam.

Despite announcing last year that it would be closing its Clifton site, Bristol Zoo Gardens plans to open its award-winning grounds to the public for free after the site is sold. Bristolians and visitors will be able to have free access to the 185-year-old gardens, a new children’s play area and a new Clifton Conservation Hub and café, as part of future plans for the 12-acre site that have been put forward by Bristol Zoological Society.

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Credit: Bristol Zoo Gardens

The plans will also ensure the site’s historical buildings are protected and include a mix of sustainable and much-needed housing with the same level of space for people and nature as today. The latest draft masterplan shows up to 235 new homes will be created of which 20% are proposed to be affordable homes and will be a range of sizes.

New life will be given to the gardens’ existing historical features, such as the Monkey Temple building, and the current theatre building on the main lawn of the gardens will also be retained, providing cultural and educational talks, workshops, and seasonal events. The iconic 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.

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Credit: Bristol Zoo Gardens

The charity will also be creating a new Bristol Zoo with a focus on sustainability at its Wild Place Project site in Gloucestershire. 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.

Dr Justin Morris, Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: “Bristol Zoo Gardens will be 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. 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.”

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Credit: Bristol Zoo Gardens

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.”

The second phase of the public consultation for the Clifton site is currently underway and the 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 November 16, and at an online event on November 23. A third public consultation will take place in early 2022 and include an artists’ impressions of the homes.

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