Chester Zoo hopeful of 2012 start on Islands attraction

Planning advisors Barton Wilmore expect to submit a detailed application on behalf of Chester Zoo in late May for its £30m Islands project.

Outline planning permission has already been received for the plans. Pre-planning consultation is being held this month into the detailed plans to be put before Cheshire West & Chester Council.

Islands will be a recreation of habitats found in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.

Visitors will travel by boat or on foot and navigate mangroves, swamps, bamboo and tropical forests. There will also be a new Indonesian-style tropical house, which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK and home to orangutans. The first phase features a 1.5km jungle path, 500,000 sq ft of landscaping and more than 25 buildings.

Dan Mitchell, partner in Barton Willmore's Manchester office, said: "This project is fundamental to the region's tourism strategy and will attract millions of new visitors to the area over the coming years.

"The project has been widely supported by the business community in the North West and many adjacent local authorities, which recognise the regional importance of Chester Zoo's Natural Vision."

Chester Zoo covers 110 acres and attracts 1.3 million visitors a year. Earlier plans for a £225m Heart of Africa bio-dome were shelved in spring 2011 after hopes for Government funding disappeared.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, director general of Chester Zoo, said: "Our wildlife expedition will be based on real life, real people and real stories and will be unlike anything seen in a UK zoo.

"These images show, for the first time, a flavour of what can be expected from our new development. Islands will not just showcase the areas that the zoo works but will be a platform for some of the most endangered animals on the planet."

Islands was designed by architects at Dan Pearlman group in Germany. If planning is approved, work will start on the project in autumn. Opening is scheduled for spring 2015.

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hope this one takes off, looks rather exciting

By c packham

I can’t wait either

By Mr C Lyon

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