One of the country’s biggest zoos will be redeveloped after politicians gave the scheme the green light.
Cheshire West and Chester Council have agreed to plans for the £225M Heart of Africa Biodome in Chester Zoo.
The Government will now assess proposals, which could attract two million visitors a year by 2022. New features will include an underwater exhibit, a hotel and an Africa rainforest on the Green Belt land.
Bosses want to transform the zoo into a resort, encouraging tourists to stay longer. The Biodome would be one of the largest buildings of its kind in Europe and bigger than Cornwall’s Eden Project.
Councillor Stuart Parker said: “I can imagine that the design of the Biodome would blend in and become ‘cloud-like’ from a distance, more so than any of the pylons blotting the landscape. We must see the bigger picture here as this is going to be fantastic for Chester and the bigger sub region. It certainly outweighs negative factors.”
Planning committee councillors voted by nine to two in favour of granting planning permission. The scheme will now be looked at by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Councillor Hilarie McNae, who opposes the idea, said: “The proposed construction of a roadside hotel will puncture this feeling of countryside and many residents believe firmly that this part of the application cannot be justified.”