To run a zoo you need a licence from the local authority. The licences are issued for four years initially and then renewed every six years.
This applies to any collection of animals/birds not normally found in the UK that are on show to the public for more than seven days a year.
An application fee should be paid at the time of your application and you will also be required to pay all veterinary inspection fees before the licence is issued. You will need to comply with any conditions attached to the licence once issued.
At least two months before making an application for a licence, you must give notice in writing (by letter or email) to notify us that you intend to make the application. The notice must identify:
- the zoo's location
- the types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for exhibition on the premises and the arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing
- the approximate numbers and categories of staff to be employed in the zoo
- the approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation is to be provided
- the approximate number and position of access to be provided to the premises
- how required conservation measures will be implemented at the zoo
At least two months before making the application, you must also publish notice of that intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and exhibit a copy of that notice. The notice must identify the location of the zoo and state that the application notice sent to us is available to be inspected at our offices during normal office hours.
Application Evaluation Process
When considering an application the local authority shall take into account any representations made by or on behalf of:
- the applicant
- the chief officer of police (or in Scotland the chief constable) in the relevant area
- the appropriate authority - this is either the enforcing authority or relevant authority in whose area the zoo will be situated
- the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
- where part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence, a planning authority for the relevant area (other than a county planning authority) or, if the part is situated in Wales, the local planning authority for the area in which it is situated
- any person alleging that the zoo would affect the health or safety of people living in the neighbourhood
- anyone stating that the zoo would affect the health or safety of anyone living near it
- any other person whose representations might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse to grant a licence
Before granting or refusing to grant the licence, we shall consider any inspectors' reports based on their inspection of the zoo, consult the applicant about any conditions they propose should be attached to the licence and make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out. At least 28 days notice of the inspection shall be provided by the local authority.
We will not grant the licence if we feel that the zoo would adversely affect the health or safety of people living in near it, or seriously affect the preservation of law and order or if they are not satisfied that appropriate conservation measures would be satisfactorily implemented.
An application may also be refused if:
- we are not satisfied that accommodation, staffing or management standards are suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of the zoo
- the applicant, or if the applicant is an incorporated company, the company or any of the company's directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers, or a keeper in the zoo, has been convicted of any offence involving the ill-treatment of animals
Applications to renew a licence will be considered no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter time period is agreed.
The Secretary of State, after consulting with us, may direct them to attach one or more conditions to a licence.
We may advise the Secretary of State that, because of the small number of animals kept in the zoo or the small number of the kinds of animal kept there, a direction should be made that that a licence is not required.
Does tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the GOV.UK service or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Apply by Post
Failed Application Redress
Please contact us in the first instance.
If you are refused a licence, you may appeal to a magistrates' court. Please see details below:
Northampton Magistrates Court
Telephone: 01604 497000
Licence Holder Redress
Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.
A licence holder may appeal to a Magistrates' court against:
- any condition attached to a licence or any variation or cancellation of a condition
- the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
- a zoo closure direction
- enforcement steps relating to any unkept condition
The appeal must be brought within 28 days from the date on which the licence holder receives written notification of the authority's decision as to the relevant matter.
If you are not satisfied with the service you should complain to the person who first dealt with the matter. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at this stage you should then complain to the Head of Environmental Services giving details of your complaint.
You can take the complaint a step further by writing to the Executive Director who will arrange for it to be investigated. You should receive a reply within 10 days, but if the matter is complex, or other organisations need to be contacted, it may take longer. But we will still let you know what action is being taken. You should give all details of your complaint and say what you have done to try to get it put right.
If you are still not happy after using our complaints procedure you can complain to the Local government Ombudsman. A free booklet is available from all council offices.
Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the local Magistrates' court within 28 days of the notice of the local authority decision. Please see address above.
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