CHESHIRE could soon get another zoo if plans to develop part of a dairy farm are approved.

Animal encounters business Zoo2U has applied to Cheshire East Council for permission to use part of the land at Bidlea Dairy near Holmes Chapel as a small zoo and wildlife conservation park.

After trading for 10 years, the company has outgrown its former premises at Hall Farm in Alsager and is looking to relocate to the dairy's Orchards Farm site 'to complement ongoing farm diversification development and to broaden its wildlife conservation activities'.

In a design and access statement, prepared by Richard Lee Project Planning on behalf of the applicant, a Zoo2U spokesperson said: “We have always had a strong vision of how we develop the business.

"With more than 30 years of experience in conservation and animal care, we are hoping to redirect our path to create a small wildlife park, which will house our existing collection and eventually expand to incorporate some small to medium sized endangered species, such as red squirrels, pancake tortoises, golden lion tamarins (small primate) and turtle doves.

"As a community focused enterprise, we will earnestly seek to engage the local community with education, conservation, sustainability, reseacrch and destination.

"We already have a very successful curriculum-based service into primary and secondary mainstream and special schools, we will continue to offer this as an outreach service but grow this to encourage onsite visits where educational sessions can be held at the wildlife park.

"We aim to have a strong conservation message to all who visit to raise issues not only in other countries but also in the UK where certain species may have a need to be conserved, such as the British hedgehog.

"We need to act now to learn and understand how our actions are affecting the world around us. We want to be sustainable and pass on our knowledge to our communities to demonstrate where they can make a difference.

"Growing the business increases opportunities to continue supporting research projects with a greater variety of species and topics.

"Knowledge can only be gained through research, and this can only benefit animals in captivity as well as those needing to be conserved in the wild.

"We are keen to provide an affordable family trip out to our local communities, there is certainly a need for more outdoor destinations where families can spend time together in a safe manner, in light of the pandemic.

"With the new wildlife park will come the creation of new jobs and we aim to source products such as animal feed from the local vicinity too, we are keen to work with local businesses to enhance and promote the area."

The plans would see a visitor centre developed at the Twemlow Lane site alongside amenity buildings and animal enclosures. 

The majority of the proposal relates to the use of the land for the siting of animal enclosures and containers required for the operation of the zoo.

Development works are limited to the visitor centre, access tracks and a parking area. Buildings and structures will be single storey and timber clad with low gradient roof profiles.

For more details on the plans, search reference 22/1435C on the council's online planning portal.