All systems go for zoo revamp

Dudley News: DELIGHT: Zoo chief executive Peter Suddock DELIGHT: Zoo chief executive Peter Suddock

Dudley Zoo staff are celebrating after being given the go-ahead for a £1.15 million programme which will include renovating its iconic entrance and bringing back the popular chairlift.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the zoo an initial £123,000 for the three-year project which will also see a further three of its historic Tecton structures – the bear ravine, safari shop and a kiosk – repaired and refurbished.

The buildings are part of the site’s collection of 12 iconic concrete Tecton structures which were built between 1935 and 1937 by renowned Russianarchitect Berthold Lubetkin.

The structures were highlighted by the World Monument Fund in 2009 as being some of the most important examples in the world of modernist architecture, but with some not fit for purpose, urgent action was needed to enable them to be sensitively restored.

Following the successful lottery bid, the work is scheduled to begin next year to coincide with the zoo’s 75th anniversary.

Peter Suddock, zoo chief executive, said: “This is fantastic news. We are preparing final details, and subject to the necessary approvals, phase one will start with the chairlift refurb next spring.

“But as one of the oldest tourist attractions in the country this announcement gives us a very bright future.”

Zoo bosses now have two years to submit further detailed plans to apply for a full Heritage Lottery grant of just over £970,000 to complete the project, which will help rejuvenate Castle Hill.

Anne Jenkins, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands, said : “We ’re extremely pleased to give initial support to Dudley Zoo for this fascinating project to restore some of these rare structures.”

In addition to the £1.15m renovations , bosses have also revealed plans to build a new Welcome Plaza at a cost of £300,000.

Being entirely funded through the zoo ’ s own coffers, the zoo’s current entrance will be transformed by rearranging the eight turnstile entrances to allow immediate access to the attraction from the car park.

A new internal space will include a ticket area with points adjacent to the flamingos, chairlift and camels, as well as a café, shop and a new toilet block.

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