A £225 million redevelopment of Chester Zoo featuring a biodome larger than the Tropical House at the Eden Project in Cornwall has been approved by planners
Designed by Proctor and Matthews Architects, The Heart of Africa Biodome is part of a larger masterplan overseen by AECOM and Barton Willmore given outline approval by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The Government will now assess proposals, which could attract two million visitors a year by 2022. New features will include an underwater exhibit, a hotel and an Africa rainforest on the Green Belt land.
Zoo bosses, who want to transform the attraction into a resort destination, have vowed to press on with the scheme despite the decision by the North West Development Agency to pull its £40 million of funding in July.
Planning committee councillors voted by nine to two in favour of granting planning permission. The scheme will now be looked at by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Councillor Stuart Parker said: ‘I can imagine that the design of the Biodome would blend in and become ‘cloud-like’ from a distance, more so than any of the pylons blotting the landscape. We must see the bigger picture here as this is going to be fantastic for Chester and the bigger sub region. It certainly outweighs negative factors.’
However councillor Hilarie McNae, who opposes the idea, said: ‘The proposed construction of a roadside hotel will puncture this feeling of countryside and many residents believe firmly that this part of the application cannot be justified.’
Previous story (AJ 05.01.10)
Revealed: Larger biodome than Eden Project
[FIRST LOOK + PROJECT DATA] Proctor and Matthews Architects has submitted plans for this whopping £90 million, 34m-tall biodome at Chester Zoo
The huge EFTE-clad structure, known as the Heart of Africa Biodome, will cover 16,000m², making it larger than the Grimshaw-designed Tropical House at the Eden Project in Cornwall.
The scheme is part of the wider £225 million ‘Natural Vision’ redevelopment proposal for the zoo, planned over the next 15 years and overseen by AECOM and Barton Willmore, which is expected to create ‘Europe’s largest conservation, animal and leisure attraction’.
Underneath the undulating, free-form roof structure, the zoo wants to ‘simulate the natural African rainforest habitats of the Congo’ with a jungle canopy and authentic climate.
According to the practice, the biodome will become ‘home to a band of gorillas, a large troop of chimpanzees, okapi (rare giraffe-like creatures), birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, and invertebrates’.
There will also be an ‘interactive water ride’ with views of the animal enclosures and themed-retail and dining facilities.
The biodome is expected to open to visitors in 2014.
Architects: Proctor and Matthews Architects
Location: Chester Zoo
Type Of Project: Zoological Visitor Attraction
Structural Engineers: AECOM
Project Architect: Gareth Wilkins
Design Team: Stephen Proctor, Andrew Matthews, Stephanie Southward, Constance Leibrock, Benoit Sanson, Kengo Skorick, Arthur Mamou-mani, Steven Davies, Anna Marchant
Client: North of England Zoological Society (NEZS)
Funding: NEZS, North West Regional Development Agency + Sponsorship
Tender date: To be confirmed
Start on site date: To be confirmed
Contract duration: 24 Months
Gross internal floor area: 22,500m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: To be confirmed
Total build cost: £58 million
M&e consultant: AECOM
Quantity surveyor: TTPM
Planning supervisor: TTPM
Lighting consultant: AECOM
Main contractor: To be confirmed
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: To be confirmed
Annual co2 emissions: CEEQUAL Rated