Bristol Zoo 'could lose £500,000 a year' if parking plans refused
Bristol Zoo Gardens could lose over £500,000 a year if its application to put a 700-space car park on the Downs is turned down, its boss has said.
The zoo wants to renew planning consent to use land off Ladies Mile as an overflow car park on up to 60 days a year, for five years.
Groups including Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society and Bristol Ramblers have opposed the plans.
The application will be discussed by the city council on 24 July.
'No detrimental impact'
The zoo has been using the overflow car park on the Downs since the 1970s.
Dr Bryan Carroll, the zoo's chief operating officer said a refusal of the application would have a "significant impact on our business".
"Our commitment to conservation shows that we would not be requesting this overflow facility if we believed, in any way, that we would damage the land.
"We don't park on there on wet days and we closely monitor the impact of use. Ecological studies have shown no detrimental impact since 2006 when the studies started."
Organisations including Destination Bristol, Clifton College and some people who live near to the zoo, support the application.
Mr Carroll said the application was submitted after carrying out a feasibility study to investigate any potential alternatives.
"This work has shown that there is a need to continue overflow parking on Ladies Mile for some years to come, in order to meet the travel needs of its visitors in the most responsible way," he added.
'No Plan B'
Bristol Ramblers believe the application should be refused because it would have "an adverse effect on people's enjoyment of the Downs".
The group also said in a statement: "The site of the car park is on several routes which are popular with walkers and joggers.
"The site is particularly important because areas for carefree, uninterrupted walking are limited by other activities on the Downs."
Richard Bland from Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society said: "We have been campaigning against this for the past 10 years and are glad others are joining in.
"The zoo uses it [the overflow car park] with great care and responsibility but that's not really the point - it encourages others to park on the Downs.
"Our concern is that they have no Plan B - if the council turns it down they have not dreamed up an alternative."