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  1. ITV Report

Essex winter wonderland faces closure by council

  • Click below to watch a video by ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard

The owner of an Essex garden centre is pleading with the council not to close down its popular Christmas attraction.

For the past five years, St John's Plant Centre in Clacton has ran its Winter Wonderland event.

In 2017, the council ordered the closure of the event citing traffic problems. Winter Wonderland still ran, and nearly a year on, the row rumbles on.

The council claims the event causes traffic chaos, doesn't have planning permission and lacks the license to sell the toys and gifts it stocks.

"You can see the amount of traffic already going along this road and with the Winter Wonderland, the traffic increases considerably, which does make it a hazard for both road users, pedestrians, cyclists and children."

– Councillor Fred Nichols, Tendring District Council

The owner of St John's disputes the council's claims.

"We believe we're not illegally trading and we have done for a number of years. This is coming into our fifth year and it seems quite strange that it's only the last twelve months where they seem to have had an issue with it."

– Thomas Bowden, St John's Plant Centre owner
The entrance to St John's Plant Centre's Winter Wonderland Credit: ITV Anglia

Despite St John's employing traffic marshals, the council says it receives increased complaints about nearby congestion during Winter Wonderland's run.

Councillor Nicholls acknowledges the popularity of Winter Wonderland, but says the council needs to treat all local businesses the same.

St John's Plant Centre will be appealing the enforcement notice by the end of the week. However, a planning inspector will make the final decision on Winter Wonderland's future.

This decision is unlikely to be made before 2018's Winter Wonderland.