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'We're open as normal' - Christmas Wonderland organisers hit back after being ordered to stop trading

PUBLISHED: 21:00 01 October 2018

Santa and his elves at last year's Christmas Wonderland in Clacton Picture: CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND

Santa and his elves at last year's Christmas Wonderland in Clacton Picture: CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND

Archant

A business which hosts a popular Christmas Wonderland event in Essex has hit back after being told to stop trading over highways and planning concerns.

St John’s Nursery in Clacton on Sea insisted “we are not trading illegally” after Tendring District Council (TDC) served it with an enforcement notice last month.

The council claimed the business, located off St John’s Road, had “poor access”, which caused highways problems, and only had planning permission to operate as a wholesale outlet. It said the business must stop trading as a retail garden centre and hosting its Wonderland event.

Last Christmas, TDC made a failed application for a High Court injunction to shut the Christmas Wonderland event down. The council sought the injunction, claiming it was an unauthorised business and had defied a temporary stop notice.

Since then, the business applied for permission to widen its access road. Although permission was granted in May, the business accused TDC of taking too long.

“Had the council dealt with this application in an appropriate and timely manner, the road would have been constructed by now,” the business said.

TDC acknowledged its application decision was delayed, but added that the business’s proposals did not go far enough to resolve the problems. A spokesman said the application made no provision to improve a troublesome junction at the end of the unadopted road and did not seek to widen the road sufficiently.

TDC said it had sought enforcement action because of highways complaints and on the principle that businesses must have correct permissions to trade.

The notice comes into force in two weeks’ time, after which the nursery has six weeks to wrap up.

Fred Nicholls, TDC cabinet member for corporate enforcement, said: “We understand that the Winter Wonderland attraction is popular and we do not want to spoil people’s fun, but it is not fair on other businesses which work hard to comply with planning law – such as Clacton Pier’s Winter Wonderland.”

The business said it was “fully entitled to undertake retail sales direct to the public” and it was “open as normal”.

“We’d like to thank all our customers and local community within Clacton and East Anglia for their amazing support and we are looking forward to seeing everyone,” it added.

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