Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Chester 'super' zoo plans approved


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 


Readers' comments (3)

  • great projet

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • An amazing project, a city with vision will change
    will atract the tourist from all over Europe.
    Congratulations to Proctor and Mathews Architects and to the Cornwall leaders behind this incredible project.
    Kersti Urvois
    Casa Decor UK

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think itll be great itll transform chester zoo into an even better zoo than it already is (which is great) itll be the best zoo in europe, or even the world!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

AJ Jobs