You’ll keep the lions up: objections to more parties at London Zoo

A bid by London Zoo to host more late-night parties sparked objections from residents concerned about disturbances to them — and the attraction’s animal inhabitants.

The zoo in Regent’s Park is currently restricted to 10 large outdoor parties a year, with a maximum capacity of 5,000, which can run until 2am.

But it submitted an application asking for no upper limit on the number of events or attendees, providing the zoo consulted Westminster city council each time it wants to host large events.More than a dozen neighbours raised concerns about the “open-ended” application, which they claim could allow events up to 365 nights a year.

Objections were also made by the Metropolitan Police, who were concerned it could “undermine” crime prevention, and the council’s own environmental health service, who said it “may have the likely effect of causing an increase in public nuisance in the area and may impact on public safety”. Other objectors raised concerns about noise affecting the animals’ welfare.

A Camden councillor, whose name was redacted in the objections posted on the council website, said residents would “have their sleep disturbed at 3-4am by the time staff finally leave after the event. Also workers and schoolchildren who have to get up early to start their day will feel the impact if the events are frequently held.”

Neighbours: Nick Leslau with his wife Maxine. He says he has had a positive meeting with zoo bosses in which he raised residents’ worries (Getty Images)

Theme park tycoon Nick Leslau, who owns Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, was among those to complain, calling the zoo’s application “unfair” on neighbours.

Mr Leslau, 58, who starred in an episode of TV’s Secret Millionaire and has an apartment close to the zoo, had a “positive” meeting with its officials and enlisted the help of specialist licensing lawyer Clare Eames to work with them on limiting the application.

The zoo has since said its bid was never meant to cover more than 35 extra Christmas events between November and January, and would cater for no more than 3,000 people a time. It said it had now “refined” its application to reflect this and objections had been withdrawn. Mr Leslau said: “We enjoy living close to the zoo and tolerate the noise generated by events because they are currently only allowed a limited number. It would be unfair on neighbours to be subjected to more.”

Rich Storton, the zoo’s director of communications, said it was now seeking to hold “a limited number of after-hours, twinkling light trails around the zoo at Christmas”. He added that the events are designed to help people “enjoy the magic of the zoo”. There was uproar three years ago when 105 residents objected to an application that could have let the zoo hold events for up to 15,000 revellers.

Westminster council’s licensing committee is expected to make a decision on the latest proposal tomorrow. Ms Eames said residents had come to a position that they “would be satisfied” if the committee agrees to the conditions they asked of the zoo.
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