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Zoo Building To Be Revamped As Events Venue

Architects could have an exciting new project to work on at Chester Zoo, but for once it will not be about providing a habitat for animals.

Instead, a building on the site formerly used for keeping lions, leopards, chimps and crocodiles when the zoo first opened in the 1930s is set to be transformed into a wedding and events venue, the Border Counties Advertiser reports.

The old stable block has long ceased to house any specimens as the zoo has expanded over the decades, with the Grade II listed structure having some modern additions as it has taken on the rather mundane role of storage and maintenance.

While the listed building will remain as it is, the existing modern extensions would be demolished and replaced, with the planning application submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council seeking to add new rooms and event space.

This could provide a major opportunity to create a venue with zoo themed architecture, so those holding events like a wedding could use the theme of animals as a feature of their celebration.

Plans for the redevelopment come after Oakfield House was transformed into the Oakfield Restaurant.

Architects and historic building consultants Donald Insall Associates issued a heritage, design and access statement noting the great significance of the building in its early days, but noted how this has subsequently been diminished.

It said this was not just because of its new functions, but also “as the zoo has expanded it has turned its back on the building with no public access and a build-up of modern structures around”.

The application noted that income from the facility would "help make a real difference to the future of endangered species worldwide by raising income to fund vital conservation in the UK and across the world”.

Since it was founded as a private animal collection by George Mottershead in 1930, Chester Zoo has expanded to become the most visited in Britain, with two million visitors a year. It now houses 20,000 creatures across 128 acres.

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