BOSSES at Clacton’s Winter Wonderland have been told the attraction cannot go ahead next Christmas.

A planning inspector has backed Tendring Council’s enforcement action against St John’s Nursery, in St John’s Road.

The council issued a planning enforcement notice against the nursery in 2018, which related to retail sales involving a garden centre and its Christmas Winter Wonderland.

Issues had been raised in 2017 but a High Court judge refused an injunction, instead ordering the nursery and council to work together.

The council said matters, including traffic issues, were not resolved and enforcement action was necessary.

The council said the site only had permission to operate as a wholesale outlet to trade customers.

Enforcement was paused after the nursery appealed against the notice, but now an inspector has found in favour of the council.

The inspector ruled “the operation of the mixed use results in unacceptable harm to the living conditions of local residents and businesses”, that “the levels of traffic congestion are substantial” and that sales “result in intolerable conditions”.

They rejected the nursery’s argument that Winter Wonderland was “unique” and said that although marshals to manage traffic flow would in theory be welcomed, “this condition is really seeking to manage a situation that should not occur in the first place”.

The business has been given six months to comply.

The inspector rejected a request from the firm to give them a year.

Neil Stock, leader and councillor responsible for planning, welcomed the decision by the inspector.

“I am pleased that the inspector has recognised the harm that this business was having not only on nearby residents, but also those who rely on St John’s Road and other companies too,” he said.

“We recognise the popularity and success of the venture, and are not seeking to curtail that business spirit which provides jobs in the area, however businesses must operate within the law, in an appropriate place, and that was not happening in this instance.

“We hope now to be able to draw a line under this matter, see the site return to its former – acceptable – use, and who knows perhaps the business will look to set up a Winter Wonderland with appropriate planning permission in another, more suitable, location.”

Plans for 195 homes and commercial units at the nursery site, which have been recommended for approval by officers, are also set to go before Tendring Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

St John’s Plant Centre was approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of going to press.