Safari style lodges overlooking giraffes grazing on a savannah have been given the go ahead at Chester Zoo.

Cheshire West and Chester Council's planning department has rubber-stamped an application for 51 accommodation lodges along with a two storey reception building with bar and restaurant,  an orientation lodge and groundworks for creation of a lake.

Once built, some of the lodges will overlook the lake while others will overlook a savannah-style enclosure complete with roaming giraffes.

The plans include four types of lodges to accommodate between four and six people, with most being based on traditional timber African safari lodge designs.

Similar proposals had been approved in 2019 but were put on hold due to the pandemic. Revised plans were submitted in 2022 for 63 lodges, but later reduced to 51 in a further revision last year. Changes were later also made to the design of the welcome building in response to rising costs, with it now having a simpler design.

Chester and District Standard: Previous artist impression of the savannah and lodges. Image from planning docsPrevious artist impression of the savannah and lodges. Image from planning docs (Image: Chester Zoo)

Approving the plans, an officer report, said: "The proposal would include the provision of a welcome building located to the north end of the site with the lodges sited to the south and around central lakes.

"The lodges would comprise of four types of accommodation which vary in scale and form. That being said, they would be constructed from similar materials including cedar shingles, timber louvres and timber framed glazing and all benefit from veranda features. Some of the units would cantilever over the lakes."

The development site is in the Green Belt, a buffer designed to protect against urban sprawl. It can only be built on if special circumstances are demonstrated, but the report said those requirements had been met.

Chester and District Standard: Revised designs for the welcome building. Image from planning docsRevised designs for the welcome building. Image from planning docs (Image: Chester Zoo)

It said: “Other considerations to be taken into account such as the contribution the zoo makes to the local economy and the benefits it provides to education and global conservation initiatives are noted.

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

It added: “On balance, subject to the conditions set out below and taking into account the provisions of the development plan and all other material planning considerations, it is recommended that planning permission be granted."