• Clacton's Christmas Wonderland was issued with stop notice for 28 days
  • Council said action is necessary due to the potential risk of serious injury due to the congestion
  • More than 3,000 signed petition within a matter of hours to keep attraction open
  • Attraction bosses say site will reopen Thursday morning
  • Council will continue to monitor the situation

Clacton's Christmas Wonderland has been reopened - despite being told by council officials that it must close for the remainder of the festive period.

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.

But a message posted on Christmas Wonderland's facebook page today said: "Our sincere apologies for being unexpectedly closed yesterday.

"We are open as usual, for christmas shopping and visits to the north pole.

"We just want to say we have been overwhelmed with how much support we received from you all.

"Thank you for supporting us, our elves are doing our absolute best to make Christmas special for you and Santa is waiting to take you on the train to his grotto."


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.

In response to the message from Christmas Wonderland, Tendring Council spokesman Nigel Brown said: "The council will continue to monitor the situation at Christmas Wonderland and will be visiting the site today to see if it reopens.

“Should it do so, we would have to consider what, if any, action we need to take.”


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

Kevin Rose, of Hudson Close, Clacton, took his three-year-old grandson Jacob to the attraction last week.

He said: "We queued for a bit for the car park and for the Santa train, but you can queue for supermarket car parks at this time of year and they don't cancel that.

"I know it causes traffic congestion but you get that on the A12 and M25.

"The people of Clacton won't stand for this. It's Christmas - it's for the kids, for crying out loud. Jacob loved it when we went.

"He spoke to Father Christmas, who gave him a chocolate Santa. All the kids were there with their parents and grandparents - whole families were there."


Essex County Council had 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.

Tendring Council said it received a planning application for the temporary use on October 16, just as the attraction opened for this winter.

Tendring Council enforcement boss Fred Nicholls yesterday 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.