THE site of a controversial former zoo could be transformed into a series of council homes after fresh plans were submitted to Basildon Council.

Sempra Homes, Basildon Council’s homes building firm, is behind the the plans for nine homes on the former Basildon Zoo site, off London Road, Vange.

The zoo closed down in 2001 after it was hit with complaints and protests about the conditions of the animals kept at the attraction.

It has remained largely empty ever since.

The new plans include nine homes with four and five bedrooms, plus 18 car parking spaces.

Kevin Blake, deputy council leader, said: “As long as the infrastructure is there, including the roads, and it’s in keeping with the area, that is what concerns me.


“I remember the zoo but not very fondly, and think it’s good to see the site being given a new lease of life. It’s had a few things there including the garden centre but it never really kicked it off.

“I think this will be a good use for the site and can’t really see any opposition to the plans. It will tidy up the area and as it’s the council behind this the homes will be Basildon people and will be of a good standard too.”

Situated on a 4.6-acre site close to Vange primary school, Basildon Aviary and Wildlife Zoo opened in 1973, in London Road, Vange.

Echo: Got the hump- Bob Hands and Don Marshall with a camel 1982.Got the hump- Bob Hands and Don Marshall with a camel 1982. (Image: Newsquest)

It was home to a range of mammals, birds and reptiles, and even included lions.

The plans say: “We are aiming to redevelop of the site in a controlled, sensitive manner and bringing a redundant piece of land that was formally occupied, back into use. It is also important to us that the masterplan doesn’t interfere with the existing trees.”

And there weren’t just exotic animals and creatures on display, there was a miniature railway for train enthusiasts, which proved to be a hugely popular draw.

By the 1990s the zoo was starting to lose its appeal and it closed its gates for good in November 2001 after failing to renew its licence.