Welsh Mountain Zoo asks for more time for construction of education and skills centre
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
An education and skills centre planned at the Welsh Mountain Zoo has been further delayed due to COVID.
Now the National Zoological Society of Wales has applied to Conwy County Council’s planning committee for an extension on the original planning application, which was granted in December 2017.
The skills centre has been on the cards for over ten years and was subject to a judicial review after initial planning consent was granted in April 2015.
But pandemic restrictions have further slowed progress, and the zoo has applied for an extension to the five-year agreement and some of its conditions, which must be met before construction starts.
The planning application submitted in December 2017 includes plans for a new alligator beach and tropical area with seven reptile exhibits, butterfly exhibit and six species exhibits.
The plans also included a plant exhibit, two lecture rooms, two classrooms, WCs, service rooms, including ‘off show’ planting, reptile and insect rooms, two offices, keeper’s store, kitchen, mess and plant room.
As part of the plans, the existing alligator beach building would be retained and converted into a pump house and butterfly exhibit. The pavilion on the southern boundary wall and the gateway and pillars to the northern boundary would also be retained.
Whilst a new gated opening was proposed in the western boundary wall, the northern stone steps would be relocated to replace the altered southern steps and provide access to an external sensory garden.
In its supporting information provided to the council, the zoo writes: “It is unfortunate that the zoo hasn’t been able to resolve these issues previously, but this issue is due to the fact that we have only just come out of a two-year period of COVID and lockdowns/restrictions that have impacted during that period on the zoo’s costs and income, and with uncertainty through that period of time, resources had to be targeted to prioritise the animals and their welfare.
“Therefore the zoo was not able to direct resources to address the pre-commencement conditions during that period of time. However, now that we are through that two-year period and the zoo operation is back to normal, we intend to address the pre-commencement conditions asap and have already commenced work in that respect, but we are concerned that the five-year limit is looming.”
The planning application will be discussed at a future Conwy planning committee meeting.
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