British Queen celebrates

The north car park at the former Bristol Zoo might soon transform into what's been described as an "empty piece of asphalt" as the Zoo's parking license for this area on Clifton Down is set to

expire in six weeks.

Having opened its doors in 1836, Bristol Zoo ceased operations last September, rebranding itself as Bristol Zoo Project at its new location in the northern part of the city.

Seeking to extend the use of the north car park until June 2025, the Zoo proposed a payment of £50,000, as the site is still being used by staff and students until March 2025.

However, the Downs Committee sought the opinion of campaign group Downs for People, which had previously challenged the legality of parking cars on parkland in 2021. Their input became crucial in determining whether the zoo could continue utilizing the car park.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Downs for People expressed their inability to reach a consensus on the zoo's proposal during discussions. This stance stems from their belief that allowing the zoo to persist with car park usage would breach legal regulations.

Green councillor Paula O'Rourke, speaking during a Downs Committee meeting, highlighted the possibility of the space being used by van dwellers once it becomes available. While acknowledging the financial benefit of the proposed £50,000 from Bristol Zoo, O'Rourke emphasized the committee's commitment to complying with the directive from Downs for People.

The potential transition of the car park into a vacant space raises concerns about attracting more van dwellers to the area. This issue has already sparked complaints from local residents and park users. The rising number of van dwellers on the Downs is attributed, in part, to the steeply increasing rents in Bristol, making housing unaffordable for many.

Downs for People advocates for the car park to be repurposed as "amenity space" or reserved for individuals utilizing the Downs, rather than being allocated to nearby buildings. Their contention is that continuing the zoo's use of the car park would be legally problematic and lacks a compelling justification.

In a statement to the committee, a spokesperson for Downs for People underscored their inability to support Bristol Zoo's ongoing use of the North car park, citing concerns about the legality of such usage and the absence of a convincing rationale for its continuation. Photo by Rodw at English Wikipedia.