Bristol Zoo has applied for planning permission to continue using land on the Downs off Ladies Mile as an overflow car park. It has had a series of temporary planning permissions for doing this since 1997 although it was making use of this land for many years before that. The Civic Society has consistently opposed applications for planning permission. Our over-riding concern is that the area of the Downs used by the Zoo as an overflow car park can recover from the damage and revert to its intended use, particularly in the summer, when people want to have picnics, play games or simply wander through a traffic free, grassy area. The Act of Parliament establishing the Downs open space dedicated the land to the people of Bristol for their recreation and enjoyment.
We have no hidden agenda against the Zoo. We recognise its value as a visitor destination and as a centre for animal conservation. We simply want the Zoo to manage the transport of its visitors consistently with the conservation principles for which it is famed and allowing the free use of this part of the Downs by Bristol residents. The use of the Downs as an overflow car park cannot be allowed to become a permanent solution.
The Society is calling on the Council to refuse the latest planning application, which flies in the face of the Council’s own planning policies, so that the Zoo is incentivised to bring its visitors in without harming the Downs, without increasing congestion in this busy area and without adding pollutants to the air we breathe. We believe the Zoo would gain a lot of respect and credit for moving in this direction.
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Chair of Planning Applications Group.