A temporary stop notice has been issued on Winter Wonderland to prevent it operating from a site in Clacton due to serious road safety concerns.
The seasonal sale of Christmas items, a Santa’s grotto and a miniature train are being run without planning permission in Earls Hall Drive off St John’s Road.
The stop notice was issued by Tendring District Council (TDC) today and means that the unauthorised use must cease immediately and for 28 days. There is no right of appeal and the only challenge is through the Courts.
The business has been operating since October 2017 and is due to continue until January 6, 2018.
TDC received a planning application for the temporary use on October 16, 2017, just as the attraction opened for this winter.
Essex County Council (ECC), as the highways authority, has lodged an objection to the planning application.
It states that in the run up to the 2016 Christmas season a similar attraction was held at the site and led to numerous complaints regarding traffic congestion and queues along St Johns Road.
On November 28, 2016, a collision was reported at the junction of Earls Hall Drive and St John’s Road.
The ECC objection adds: “Earls Hall Drive is of insufficient width to allow two vehicles to pass. This increases the conflict between opposing vehicles, creates queues of traffic in St Johns Road and increases the risk of collisions in the highway.
“Without any improvements to the highway, the access remains as a conflict point and these issues will remain.”
Due to ECC’s objection, TDC is looking to refuse the planning application but cannot do so until publicity periods associated with the planning application have ended.
Cllr Fred Nicholls, TDC’s lead for Corporate Enforcement, said that it had therefore been decided to take immediate action via a stop notice.
“No traffic survey has been submitted to justify the use of the site,” he added. “It is not as well served by a safe access as other sites in the Town Centre or Clacton Shopping Village might be.
“There are reports of lengthy queues on St Johns Road this year from local residents and it was reported to us that last weekend congestion was causing significant delays by vehicles trying to access the site.”
TDC has also had reports of congestion on weekdays and although the road is to adoptable standard at its entrance it then narrows to a private track with passing places.
Cllr Nicholls added: “TDC will ask that the Winter Wonderland activity ceases for 28 days and this also includes the associated café, animatronic displays, the roundabout rides and sale of Christmas items.
“This action is felt necessary due to the potential risk of serious injury - or worse - due to the congestion at this particular site.
“TDC wrote to the operator over a week ago asking for it to stop the unauthorised activity but they continued trading. By issuing a stop notice we hope to avoid further disruption this weekend.”