Plans for a zoo and animal rescue center at Kukham were rejected

Cookham Zoo, which opened last May, houses meerkats and other rescued animals

A zoo and animal rescue center's planning application has been rejected because it could cause „impact” on the green belt.

Wildway Wildlife Ltd applied for temporary permission to operate a „small mini zoo and animal education centre” on land at Lower Mount Farm near Cookham, Berkshire.

Kookham Zoo has an unpaid staff of about nine people and about 70 animals.

Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council retrospectively refused the application.

Its finding follows an earlier decision to deny the zoo a licence.

The site opened on Long Lane last May and applied for provisional planning approval until New Year 2026.

Its animals include meerkats, ring-tailed lemurs, king pythons and Czechoslovakian wolfdogs.

Noise concerns

The applicant argued that the zoo benefited from „extremely favorable conditions” that allowed development in the green belt.

It pointed out that the application site would serve the public in the existing commercial farm and farm shop and provide local employment.

Its operators have said they use „poor quality agricultural land” and that visitor numbers are limited through online ticket sales.

However, the council's decision announcement: „No circumstances have been demonstrated to be better than harm to a green belt of considerable weight.”

Planners also said the metal containers, fences and hard surface would be „alien” to the surrounding open farmland.

They cited noise and parking concerns and a lack of „improvements” for biodiversity.

A total of 45 objection letters were received and 72 wrote in support.

One resident said: „It has helped save and care for various endangered animals, which would be at risk again if the zoo were to close.”

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Another wrote: „This zoo and lovely informative talks have helped my grandson. Please keep it open.”

But others raised noise complaints, with one neighbor saying: „There are noises coming from this site – noises from animals and events – which are unacceptable.”

The zoo is expected to appeal the ruling.


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