CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Designs reveal how historic London Zoo aviary will become home for monkeys

Birdhouse is on Historic England's 'at risk' register

29 June, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

IT is a neighbourhood known for its billionaires and ambassadors, actors and artists.

The newest residents to snap up a des-res in Primrose Hill, however, are set to be a troupe of Colobus monkeys with their eyes on a Grade II-listed beauty close to Regent’s Park.

The New Journal reported last year how the Snowdon Aviary at London Zoo – the soaring steel mesh landmark visible from canal tours – is to be turned into a home for primates, and now the plans for the conversion have reached the desk of planners. The £7.1m project to convert the aviary, which dates from 1962, will be overseen by globally renowned Modernist architects Foster and Partners.

The plans confirm the monkeys will be joined by African grey parrots, miniature deers called Red Duikers and waterfowl. Westminster Council hold the final say over whether it can go ahead, although Camden’s planning department has been surveyed too due to the proximity of the borough boundary. Designs show how a new monkey house will be connected to the aviary with a walkway for the monkeys to running above the Cumberland Basin footbridge.

The work is vital to improve the environment for the zoo’s animals, the application states. It is currently home to a variety of birds including peacocks and white ibis, but in a report to Westminster Council, heritage planning firm JLL, working for the zoo, said: “The buildings within London Zoo must be seen in the context of modern day animal requirements. The standards of animal enclosure have significantly changed from Burton’s [19th-century] original masterplan for the Zoological Gardens to the modern day.”

The application lays out how the aviary is on Historic England’s “at risk” register, as surveys show that high-tensile supporting cables that run to the top of the structure is showing signs of deteriorating. It adds: “The strategic aim of the proposals is to provide a solution to the inherent risk of the building.”

The zoo said the project would not only save the aviary from further decline, but revitalise the northern part of the zoo, the application claims. They added: “Where the Snowdon Aviary is located suffers from a limited footfall and does not have the same visitor appeal when compared to other parts. These proposals seek to revitalise this part of the zoo through the sensitive refurbishment of the aviary with a new monkey enclosure to ensure that visitors are willing to visit the outer fringes of the zoo.”

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