In recent news, Reece Oliver - the controversial owner of ‘Strelley Wildlife Conservation Facility’ - located at his private residence in the small Nottinghamshire village of Strelley - has submitted concerning plans to develop yet another zoo in the nearby village of Trowell, which would include 27 guest cabins, restaurant and spa, all located on precious greenbelt land. 

Oliver argues that the animals kept in captivity at 'Strelley Wildlife Conservation Facility' are rescue animals who have come from captive environments in Eastern Europe and beyond, and will therefore never be releasable. He is using similar messaging for the new zoo plans - by claiming it will be a sanctuary. However, this is far from the case. You can read more about the claims here.

The planning application is currently live and accepting comments on Broxtowe Council’s website. We have submitted an objection with the council and are now calling on our wonderful supporters and members of the public to do the same. 

Sadly, even in 2023, animal protection concerns are not considered during the objection process. Only, external environmental factors and residential issues can form part of an objection. Therefore, when submitting your objections, please focus on the negative impacts the expansion of the zoo would have on the environment, roads, and residential area.

We have the animals at the focus of everything we do at Freedom for Animals. We know the suffering and damage they cause to innocent individuals, and so a new zoo even being a possibility in the 21st Century is unacceptable! Especially one run by an individual with such a chequered past in animal welfare issues. See our news page for more information on this issue.

The council will only accept objections for application 22/00892/FUL using the online form and not via email, so please visit Broxtowe Council’s planning page HERE to add your comments.

A draft objection to use in your comment can be found below:

Dear Broxtowe Council, 

I am writing to object to Planning Application 22/00892/FUL, and the proposed plans of changing the use of the green field site to allow the public exhibition of animals as a zoo or animal sanctuary, along with the inclusion of holiday lets, a restaurant, spa and education facilities. 

The development site is within the green belt between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. These plans - and all the associated infrastructure that would be required to allow for such increased visitation and parking - are wholly inappropriate developments within the greenbelt. The site is well-known for flooding due to the bordering river Erewash. The ground level often becomes boggy and water-logged, yet this may not show in surface water flood reporting or modelling.

Many protected species are known to live and transiently move through the natural hedgerows and habitats on the site, including legally protected species such as badgers (wildlife experts have clearly found evidence of sets but these have failed to be included in the applicant's submitted ecological survey), great-crested newts (the survey was conducted on the 6th September 2022, which is out of the time frame to monitor the presence of the species so should be rejected for this fact alone), and otters and water voles (who both use the nearby river habitats and will be negatively affected by the increased surface digging and pollution caused by the plans). The ecological and environmental impacts of the development will be catastrophic to local wildlife; and destroy many native species who should instead be protected at all costs.

The amount of space and location of the site is completely unsuitable to be used as a zoo. The small size available can never provide the necessary requirements for animals to have an appropriate living environment, and the risk of flooding further exacerbates these concerns.

It is unsafe and unethical to have holiday cottages with permanent viewing areas built into the enclosure spaces. This is a health and safety risk and an animal welfare issue. The prospect of allowing constant interaction and viewing of the animals is unacceptable, and will cause significant distress.

There has been a history of health and safety issues leading to human injury at Mr Oliver’s zoo establishments in the past - most notably in May 2020 when an employee was attacked by an animal held captive at the zoo - and these failings cannot be forgotten or disregarded. The community must be protected against risks of attack, which is a high possibility if animals present at the zoo manage to escape their enclosure or external surroundings. Adverse ecological impacts on native species are also a significant risk during these escapes. Furthermore, there has been a history of failures to comply with conditions included in Mr Oilver’s zoo licence, most notably the failure to prevent the captive lions from breeding.

The site access onto Ilkeston Road is not suitable in terms of positioning, location and visibility, both for the predicted volumes of visitor traffic expected and the proposed business activities. The road is a busy A road and does not provide width for right turning. It would also be in conflict with other vehicle movements into the Forge opening and the site of Eagle Mill opposite. 

The location is close in proximity to existing residential amenities, including the house on the Forge and also those on Ilkeston Road and Windsor Close. A zoo operation requires 24/7 access, therefore such increased vehicle and people movement would be a disturbance and nuisance to neighbours. The site is divided by a public footpath ‘No. 3 - The Forge / Ilkeston Road- County Boundary (footbridge). The plans neglect to show this fully in the site plans. The footpath borders two of the planned enclosures, which is a risk to footpath users for safety as secure access through the site has not been provided. It also allows open access to the site. 

There is an ecological risk to the already poor water quality of the neighbouring Erewash River. According to the Rivers Trust during a report in 2021, 100 days worth of sewage was released into the River Erewash in 2020. The 131 recorded spillages meant that for approximately 30% of that year the river contained contaminated wastewater, therefore there is an increased risk of animal waste entering the river as a result of this proposal, which could further spread disease downstream and to surrounding green belt areas. 

The inclusion of cottages, an onsite restaurant for 127 covers, and school visits to provide “animal experiences" that will allow children to get up close to dangerous species, are a huge concern. These events cause immense stress to animals and provide very little educational benefit to children or students. The inclusion of such profit-driven additions suggest the applicant's approach of claiming the establishment to be a sanctuary, rather than a zoo, to be completely disingenuous. True sanctuaries create a safe haven for animals, they do not allow stressful up-close and personal interactions to occur, do not permit animal breeding and do not exploit animals for profit.

The presence of a zoo on this greenbelt field, at the edge of a village, will do nothing to better the environment for nearby residents or wildlife, and creates serious and unacceptable animal welfare and public health and safety risks. There is also considerable opposition to the controversial planning application from people in the local area, which should be taken seriously. 

For the above reasons, I urge Broxtowe Borough Council to reject the planning application 22/00892/FUL.

Yours sincerely,