Attractions industry news

17 Jan 2020

Alligator park coming to London's Old Kent Road

Avanton, a London-based property developer, has announced plans to create an alligator farm and enclosure to be built on the UK capital's Old Kent Road.

The enclosure will form the centrepiece of a housing and office development worth a reported £230m (US$300m, €270m). It will be located inside a Grade II-listed Victorian gasholder, with the former tanks at the base of the structure to be converted into a habitat, while part of the 160 ft (49m) iron frame will be covered with glass, creating a multi-storey conservatory, resulting in the humid, Florida-style climate necessary for the alligators to survive.

The proposed gasholder, number 13, was built in 1881 by engineer George Livesey, secretary of the South Metropolitan Gas Company, and is leftover from the Old Kent Road gasworks, which supplied Southwark, Croydon, Streatham and Lambeth from the 1830s.

Once a familiar sight across the UK, only a handful of listed gasholder – or gasometers – remain including four surrounding a park and a block of flats in London's King's Cross.

"The alligator park concept came to us after we were approached by an out-of-town specialist looking for a location for an alligator park," said Marc Pennick, co-founding director of Avanton.

"The alligator park and farm would be the first in London and is one of a series of exciting leisure concepts Avanton is reviewing.

"We want to turn the gasholder into something really special for London, so alongside the alligator park we are also looking at the option of turning it into a large lido and leisure deck complex, and are also thinking about an artistic garden with water features."

If approved, the development would become the second dedicated alligator or crocodile enclosure in the UK, behind the Crocodiles of the World zoo in Oxfordshire. It will consist of an alligator habitat and enclosure, as well as a visitor centre and educational facility.

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