Way ahead barred for march of the penguins at London Zoo

Penguins at London Zoo look set to be in need of a p-p-p-pick-me-up with Westminster Council likely to refuse planning permission for a new pool.

The zoo has applied for a greatly enlarged pool, including a beach, tunnels to play in and a nursery – allowing an increase from 40 to 150 penguins.

The penguins are currently housed in a temporary location originally built for flamingos and deemed “not a suitable environment for the penguins”.

But planning officers recommend the application be refused as it would involve the demolition of the vacant 1868 parrot house.

It would fail to maintain or improve the character and appearance of the Regent’s Park conservation area, they say.

“The principle of remodelling the penguin pool is acceptable and supported, officers add. But they say further work needs to be done to explore the options for retaining the more significant parts of the parrot house.

But the zoo says the penguins’ current home does not have a water filtration system leaving water quality unsatisfactory while it is insufficient in size and depth.

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There is also a problem with limited visitor viewing areas and overcrowding. This results in visitor dissatisfaction.

The enclosure size would increase from 30sqm to 1,400sqm under the plans.

Regent’s Park councillor Robert Rigby says the ward councillors support the proposal despite the loss of the historic spot.

“The current penguin pool is a glorified swimming pool in some ways and clearly needs to be upgraded,” he said.

“The new pool will be more conducive to housing penguins and give visitors a better experience.

“London Zoo represents a major tourist attraction and this proposal will definitely enhance its position and standing.

“Nobody likes to see an old building taken down but, in this particular situation, it’s a building that has outlived its use.”

While planning officers claim other ideas haven’t been fully explored, the zoo has stated alternative options would not be viable or economically practical.

A London Zoo spokeswoman said: “We are constantly developing and improving the zoo and, subject to this planning permission, our new pool will be the biggest penguin pool in England.

“The zoo has been home to penguins for more than 150 years and this will be a very exciting development for them and for our visitors.”