A GOVERNMENT agency and environmental campaign group have both objected to Chester Zoo’s plan for a new accommodation-focused attraction.

The Environment Agency says the Grasslands project currently includes proposals for its own sewage treatment plant, rather than being connected to the existing public sewer.

This is against national planning policy guidance, it says, and could have a “potentially harmful impact on water quality”.

Meanwhile the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also lodged an objection on the grounds that the plan represents “inappropriate development of the Green Belt” and would result in “unacceptable loss of trees and hedgerows”.

Council documents also reveal the group would prefer the accommodation to be situated in the city centre.

If approved, the zoo’s Grasslands attraction will include a new restaurant, lake, fisherman lodges and safari-style tents.

The scheme aims to include a range of different African habitats, from bush land to wildlife rich plains, and is intended to open to the public in 2022.

A planning application is set to be considered by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, September 3.

Expert planners at the council have recommended that decision-making powers be deferred to officers on the basis that permission is granted, subject to a number of conditions.

They stressed this would only be if the Environment Agency (EA) withdraws its objection before Tuesday, which should be possible.

In his report to the committee, case officer Steven Holmes writes: “Officers and the applicant are continuing to work with the EA to address these concerns.

“There is every prospect that the EA’s concerns can be addressed either through the submission of a more detailed justification of the proposals or through the redesign of the scheme to enable connection to the public sewer.”

Mr Holmes also stated that the zoo needs to demonstrate “very special circumstances” in order to build on the protected Green Belt.

“Other considerations to be taken into account include the contribution the zoo makes to the local economy and the benefits it provides to education and global conservation initiatives.

“Taken together it is considered that these considerations outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and amount to very special circumstances.”

He also stressed the accommodation at Grasslands would have to “retain a direct functional link” to the zoo and not be run as a separate operation.

A spokesman for Chester Zoo said previously: “The Grasslands development is being designed to help the zoo continue to push the boundaries of world-class animal husbandry and welfare, while also further establishing Chester Zoo’s position as one of the UK’s leading tourist attractions.”