Public to have say on major plans for Chester Zoo

The public are to be given the chance to have their say on ambitious plans to transform Chester Zoo.

Earlier this year, the zoo announced a £225m long-term project that will see it become the largest conservation, animal and leisure attraction of its kind in Europe.

Given the working title Natural Vision, the scheme includes, in the first phase of development, the only domed ecosystem in the UK.

Called "Heart of Africa," the bio-dome will be an African rainforest-themed sanctuary for a band of gorillas, a large troop of chimpanzees, Okapi (rare giraffe-like creatures), and a wide variety of tropical birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and invertebrates, moving freely among lush vegetation.

Plans for the first phase will be submitted in the autumn but, ahead of that, the zoo will canvass opinions from local people. Four drop-in sessions are to be held in July to give the zoo the chance to explain more about the project and to gather feedback. The forums will also enable the project team to answer any questions from the public.

Simon Mann, Chester Zoo Development Director, said: “Natural Vision is the largest development project ever to be undertaken by Chester Zoo and will ultimately provide an unrivalled visitor experience and make a major contribution to conservation and sustainability.

“These forums are an opportunity for us to explain the project in more detail and to unveil some new imagery.

"We will be sending out newsletters to people in our immediate area and beyond, to update them on our activities and invite them to join-in our consultation exercise.”

Actor Stephen Tompkinson, who is currently appearing on ITV in his African Balloon Adventure, took time out from his schedule to visit the 110-acre zoo and find out more about Natural Vision.

The sessions will held on July 17, 18, 24 and 25.

The forums on July 17 (4pm – 8pm) and 18 (9am to noon) will be held at the zoo’s Cedar House building on Caughall Road, Upton. The session on July 24 (2pm – 6pm) will be held at Marks & Spencer (ladies’ and food court) Chester city centre and at Cheshire Oaks (food court, 9.30am to 1pm) on July 25.