Chester Zoo is looking to make a further change to its Heart of Africa development, which will see spectacular overnight hotel lodges overlooking animal habitats.

Previously we reported the zoo had submitted proposals for 63 lodges next to the A41 Moston Road on the approach to the zoo's car park.

It followed initial proposals by the zoo for 42 safari-style lodges and tents in 2019, which were lodged and approved, but the onset of the subsequent Covid pandemic and lengthy lockdowns put paid to any significant zoo development work.

While the plans for 63 lodges were approved in December 2022, the zoo had since submitted revised plans for a reduced 51 lodges, plus an orientation lodge to help guide people on arrival.

Now the zoo has submitted another tweak to the development, looking to replace a planned restaurant with an education centre.

Previous artists impressions of Chester Zoos new overnight lodges plan, currently in development. Source: Planning document.

Previous artist's impressions of Chester Zoo's new overnight lodges plan, currently in development. Source: Planning document.

A supporting planning statement prepared by consultants Cassidy + Ashton says the education centre would take the spot of what was planned to be the restaurant in the Heart of Africa redevelopment, and would be a smaller site overall.

The statement adds the single-storey centre "will be central" to inspiring a nation of conservationists at the Heart of Africa development, which will feature close-up experiences with species including cranes, vultures, aardvarks and warthogs.

The "dedicated space for educational activities" would overlook the small animals enclosure with a viewing platform and couple up with tours and activities across the rest of the zoo.

The educational benefits from the centre would be to "increase visitor understanding of the complexity and interdependence of African grassland ecosystems and their vulnerability, including threat from climate change; empower visitors to mitigate threats to Heart of Africa species, including climate change,

through their own actions; and increase visitor understanding of how good modern zoos contribute to science-based conservation through showcasing our work with threatened species, with a particular focus on the black rhino."

The centre would also have views over the giraffe herd – which would be relocated from its long-standing home elsewhere in the zoo – and offer a range of learning experiences from school group lessons to drop-in activities and professional training for adults.

The applicants added the zoo had 122,983 education visits in 2023, with a total of 1,971,178 visitors to the zoo that year.

The tweaked plans are to be decided by Cheshire West and Chester Council at a later date.