Travel & Tourism

Plans approved for new safari lodges at Chester Zoo where visitors wake up next to giraffes

We can't cope with how cute this all sounds.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 15th May 2024

You could soon be able to stay overnight in a safari lodge, and wake up to see giraffes and other animals roaming freely.

That’s right… it’s finally happening.

It’s been a very long time coming, but this week – after several years of waiting following plans first being hinted at in 2019, and revised plans then being unveiled back in June 2022 – Chester Zoo has now been given the highly-anticipated green light to build dozens of savannah-style lodges on a plot of its land that’s currently not being actively-used.

A total of 51 lodges have been approved by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning department as part of the ‘Grasslands’ development – with some of them set to overlook a lake, while others overlook an enclosure with free-roaming giraffes.

As mentioned, similar proposals to those that’ve been green-lit this week had been approved in 2019, but they had to be put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plans have been approved to build dozens of new overnight safari lodges at Chester Zoo / Credit: Chester Zoo

Revised plans were then submitted in 2022 for 63 lodges, but this was later reduced to 51.

On top of the reduction to 51 lodges last year, a number of changes also had to be made to the design of the development’s welcome building to make it “simpler” in response to rising costs, according to reports by CheshireLive and BBC News.


The approved plans include four types of lodges, all with a design based on traditional timber African safari lodges.

Alongside the 51 lodges, the Council’s planners have also approved a two-storey reception building with a bar and restaurant, an orientation lodge, and the groundworks for the all-important creation of a lake the development’s set to overlook.

Visitors will be able to wake up too see giraffes and other animals roaming freely / Credit: Chester Zoo

Given that the development is proposed for Green Belt land, this means it can only be built on if special circumstances are demonstrated, and other considerations also had to be taken into account by the Council’s planning committee too, such as the contribution the zoo makes to the local economy, and the benefits it provides to education and global conservation initiatives.


But the planners’ report stated that all those requirements had been met in the latest proposals submitted by the zoo.

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

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It then concluded that: “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”.

A timeline for works, and predicted project completion dates are set to be announced in due course, so keep your eyes peeled.

Featured Image – Chester Zoo