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Welsh Mountain Zoo granted extension to build new development after Covid delay

18 Aug 2022 3 minute read
A Sumatran Tiger at Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay. Picture by Denis Egan (CC BY 2.0).

Conwy councillors voted in favour of extending the period of planning permission for a new education and skills centre at the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

The new development will house a new alligator beach and tropical area, seven reptile exhibits, butterfly exhibit, and six species exhibits.

The plans also included a plant exhibit, two lecture rooms, two classrooms, WCs, service rooms, reptile and insect rooms, two offices, a keeper’s store, kitchen, mess, and a plant room.

The National Zoological Society of Wales was last given planning permission by Conwy County Council’s planning committee in December 2017.

But the planning application, which was originally granted in December 2017, was due to expire, following development delays caused by COVID.

The previous deadline for work to commence has now been extended from 29 January 2023, and developers now have an additional two years to start work.

At a planning committee meeting, Cllr Nigel Smith proposed councillors voted in favour of backing officers’ recommendations to grant permission for the extension at the zoo in Upper Colwyn Bay.

The proposal was seconded by Cllr Ifor Lloyd, and the vote was unanimous.

Butterfly exhibit

In its supporting information provided to the council, the zoo explained why the project had been delayed.

The statement read: “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 (of previously agreed planning permission) 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 skills centre has been planned for over a decade but was subject to a judicial review after planning consent was originally granted in April 2015.

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.

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