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  • 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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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

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    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.
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    He said: ?This planning application could be sorted out and the road built by now. We want to widen the access road.
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    ?We also have a statutory right to sell ten per cent of our stock as retail and that is exactly what we do.
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    ?It is up to them to fight us in this situation.
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    ?In the spring season, we are as busy as we are in the Christmas season.
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    ?All year round we are creating jobs, keeping people employed.?
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    The garden centre bosses confirmed about ?20,000 was spent fighting the council?s application last year. Staff remain fearful for their futures.
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    The Christmas Wonderland has happened for the past five years at the 26-acre garden centre. It recently saw a surge in popularity.
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    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.
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    ?It’s like they get knocked back and keep returning to try and shut us down.
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    ?Clacton needs something like this, there is nothing that can replicate what we have here.
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    ?We became too successful, but you can?t stop a business growing.
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    We will be appealing the decision.
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    ?The support we have had from the community has been encouraging.?
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    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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