Updated: Christmas Wonderland bosses say site will reopen today - click here

CLACTON'S popular Christmas Wonderland was told it must close for the remainder of the festive period following concerns over “traffic chaos”.

Tendring Council said the seasonal sale of Christmas items, a Santa’s grotto and a miniature train are being run without planning permission at the St John’s Plant Centre site in Earls Hall Drive, off St John’s Road.

Officers visited the site on Tuesday and issued a stop notice, which means the unauthorised use must cease immediately and for 28 days.

The move to close the site happened after Essex County Council highways bosses lodged an objection to a planning application stating that in the run-up to last Christmas there were numerous complaints about traffic.

More than 3,700 people signed a petition within a matter of hours to keep the site open.

Mum Kerry-Ann Cradick, of Clacton, hit out at the council for forcing the attraction to shut.

She said: “I went with my nieces and they loved it. I had my baby last year and wanted to take her to see Santa next week. She’s excited but now and I have to let her down.

“I don’t think the traffic is a big issue – it hasn’t been before when there are roadworks or when the airshow is on and traffic is bad.

“Why do they want to stop a magical event for kids? It’s not fair for the kids who want to see Santa and it is unfair on the business.”

Clacton MP Giles Watling also waded into the row, calling for Christmas Wonderland to remain open.

He said: “It is utter nonsense that something that has been happening for such a long time and enjoyed by so many has been thoughtlessly cancelled.

"I quite understand the concerns for safety but traffic jams by their very nature slow traffic down so I don’t see the risk.

"It is Christmas, everybody should be out and about enjoying the festive season, we want Father Christmas not Scrooge.”

Tendring Council enforcement boss Fred Nicholls said the authority had decided to take immediate action with the stop notice.

He said: “There are reports of lengthy queues on St John’s Road this year from residents and it was reported to us that last weekend congestion was causing significant delays by vehicles trying to access the site.

“This action is felt necessary due to the potential risk of serious injury – or worse – due to the congestion at this particular site.”

He said the council wrote to the operators a week ago asking them to stop the unauthorised activity, but they continued trading.


Essex County Council said that Earls Hall Drive is of insufficient width to allow two vehicles to pass, which has led to queues of traffic in St Johns Road and increases the risk of collisions.

Plans were submitted in July for improvements to the road, but the application was refused.

St Osyth Parish Council said it had concerns the volume of traffic would cause “absolute chaos” as in previous years.

There was also a collision at the junction of Earls Hall Drive and St John’s Road on November 28.

Tendring Council said it received a planning application for the temporary use on October 16, just as the attraction opened for this winter. Christmas Wonderland was due to run until January 6.

Its bosses declined to comment. They have no right of appeal and can only challenge the notice through the courts.

Update:  A message posted on Christmas Wonderland's facebook page on Wednesday night read: "Our Elves have been working tirelessly and we will be open in the morning as normal.

"Again we apologise for any inconvenience caused and look forward to seeing you all soon."

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