The Natural History Museum has been given the green light to transform its grounds and gardens - including a return of the museum's much-loved dinosaur skeleton.
It was granted planning permission to carry out extensive works to areas surrounding the Grade 1 listed building in Exhibition Road, Kensington , at a planning meeting held on Tuesday (July 26) evening.
Among the Grounds Project proposals given the go-ahead include the controversial changes to the wildlife garden on the west side of the building .
Major changes will see a the formation of a square near the entrance to the site from South Kensington Tube station for visitors to sit, eat and relax while enjoying the Museum’s surroundings.
On the east side of the building there will be a geological timeline of how life has changed over the long history of the Earth. The area will be landscaped to create a journey back through time, from the origins of life through to the present day.
This area will house the Son of Dippy exhibit - a bronze cast replica of the iconic Diplodocus exhibit moving out of Hintze Hall next year .
The huge skeleton has been in place in museum's entrance hall since 1979, and news of its removal came as a shock to its fans.
Overwhelming vote in support of plans
The proposal echoes the original design of the building, with extinct species represented in the east and living species in the wildlife garden on the western side.
A spokesperson said: “More than half of the world’s population now lives in urbanised areas, giving urban green spaces an ever more important role in connecting us to the natural world.
"The new designs will connect our outdoor spaces and support biodiversity, while acknowledging the value of green spaces in cities for both wildlife and our own wellbeing.”
Planners voted in favour of the application by 11-1.
Afterwards, the museum spokesperson continued: “We are pleased that the Natural History Museum’s Grounds Transformation Project has been granted planning permission by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea by 11 votes to 1.
“The Grounds Project will greatly improve access to the museum, reducing queues while turning the currently fragmented outdoor space into a series of open-air galleries that put the living world centre stage for any visit to the museum.
“Twenty per cent more of our 5 million visitors will be able to engage with, be inspired by, and learn from nature in a unique and iconic urban setting.”
* Images provided by Trustees of the Natural History Museum