Abandoned zoo in Basildon could become housing site

Basildon’s former zoo which has been abandoned for 22 years could become houses, according to new plans.

Nine new homes could be built in place of the once-popular Basildon Aviary and Wildlife Zoo in Vange.

Basildon Borough Council’s housing company Sempra Homes submitted an outline application on October 24.

According to a design and access statement submitted alongside the proposals, the application provides an opportunity to redevelop a long-abandoned site with “much-needed” housing in the district.

A section read: “Since the Zoo closed in 2001 it was left to fall into disrepair, with the animal enclosures lying empty and decaying.

“A pet shop that was in operation during the latter years of the Zoo’s life remained open until approximately 2018.”

Basildon Zoo opened in 1973 but closed and was left vacant in 2001, the statement continues.

In 2020, two years after Sempra Homes purchased the site, the former Zoo keepers house was targeted by arsonists and the bungalow was destroyed.

After this, the remaining buildings in the site were removed for health and safety reasons, on the advice of the fire authorities.

The site is in the green belt, however according to the statement it constitutes previously developed land, therefore redevelopment should be considered acceptable.

The proposed houses themselves are set to be detached and contain between two and four bedrooms.

Vange Primary School & Nursery directly to the east of the site and the 18-hole Basildon Golf Course lies to the north.

The nearest secondary school is Woodlands School, which is a 30 minute walk from the former Zoo.

According to the statement, an application for five houses at the site was refused by the council in 2009. A redevelopment of the site to build seven houses was then approved at appeal in 2011.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter