The company aiming to bring a zoo to Greater Manchester is in advanced talks with Rochdale Council to take over four parcels of land totalling 100 acres near Hopwood Hall in Middleton.
Former zookeeper Johnpaul Houston, who is heading up the project, was previously understood to be looking at sites to the south of the city region, around Trafford.
However Manchester Zoo, the company set up by Houston in 2017, and Rochdale Council are in advanced talks on a land deal, with the agreement discussed at the council’s cabinet last Thursday.
The council has confirmed it will hold a public consultation while a planning application is expected later this year.
A railway interchange at Slattocks could be built as part of the project.
Houston is understood to have already lined up funding for the development, and is in various negotiations around locating animals to the site.
Manchester Zoo is “focused on creating an immersive experience, supporting important conservation projects and conducting research to benefit animals both at home and abroad,” according to its website.
“You will get the chance to meet some of the beautiful native animals of Manchester, as well exotic species from all over the world, including locations such as Madagascar”.
If successful, the zoo will become the first in Manchester since Belle Vue Zoological Gardens closed in 1977.
Barton Willmore is the planner for the project, with experience advising on various expansion projects at Chester Zoo.