St John’s Plant Centre vows continue Christmas Wonderland

St Johns Garden Centre will continue to run business as normal despite being told it’s trading illegally by council officials.
 
St Johns Plant Centre insists it is not breaking any laws by trading as a retail garden centre. It also feels the same about hosting a Christmas Wonderland attraction.
 
Tendring Council served an enforcement notice last month. They ordered the business to stop its retail sales and demanding it stop hosting its festive event.
 
Last year, the council made a failed application for a High Court injunction to shut the event down due to traffic “chaos”.

St Johns working with Tendring Council

 
St Johns is trying to work with the council on addressing highways concerns. But a decision over a planning application to widen the access road is stalling pending an appeal.
 
He said: “This planning application could be sorted out and the road built by now. We want to widen the access road.
 
“We also have a statutory right to sell ten per cent of our stock as retail and that is exactly what we do.
 
“It is up to them to fight us in this situation.
 
“In the spring season, we are as busy as we are in the Christmas season.
 
“All year round we are creating jobs, keeping people employed.”
 
The garden centre bosses confirmed about £20,000 was spent fighting the council’s application last year. Staff remain fearful for their futures.
 
The Christmas Wonderland has happened for the past five years at the 26-acre garden centre. It recently saw a surge in popularity.
 
He said: “We have to carry on. We can’t do much about it because it is down to the council to do what it should do.
 
“It’s like they get knocked back and keep returning to try and shut us down.
 
“Clacton needs something like this, there is nothing that can replicate what we have here.
 
“We became too successful, but you can’t stop a business growing.
 
We will be appealing the decision.
 
“The support we have had from the community has been encouraging.”
 
Tendring Council has acknowledged its decision over the highways plan was delayed. It has said the business’s scheme did not go far enough to solve the problems.

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