A HIGH Court judge has refused a council's application for an injunction against Clacton's popular Christmas Wonderland.

Tendring Council went to the court in London yesterday after the attraction, in Earls Hall Drive, off St John's Road, defied a Temporary Stop Notice and continued to trade without planning permission.

Christmas Wonderland said it was overjoyed at the decision, which has "saved Christmas".

A spokesman for the attraction said: "We are very happy with the judge's decision.

"This will keep Wonderland open and all the shops - Father Christmas will be around for Christmas.

"This has saved our Christmas.

"I think this all went way too far - we did try to resolve issues with the traffic by putting in a planning application.

"The important thing is that we are here and 120 jobs have been saved by this.

"I want to thank everyone in the community for their support and hope everyone will come down to visit us."

The spokesman added that the legal action was a "waste of money" although Tendring Council said it did not yet know what its barrister's bill will be.

The council said it is disappointed the judge refused its application for an injunction to call a halt to trading.

It said the judge was critical of the operator’s behaviour and described it as a “finely balanced” case, despite turning down the application.

Winter Wonderland asked for costs to be awarded against the council, but that was rejected.

Council leader Neil Stock said it was a disappointing outcome but said the council was right to take action.

“Taking this case to the High Court was not something we did without a great deal of thought and consideration,” he added.

“We needed to demonstrate that we will not stand idly by and allow a blatant disregard for the democratic planning process to go unchallenged.

“When a business sets out to operate illegally it sends a very poor message to those who obey the law and often have to pay a lot of money to ensure they do comply with relevant rules and regulations.

“This is a case of a business seeking to cash in on Christmas without proper regard for customer safety or the impact on other road users.

“This unauthorised business has had all year to sort this matter out but has chosen not to do so.”


The council added that the attraction's operators said they can overcome any of the planning issues and the council is now waiting for them to come forward with those solutions.

Tendring Council issued the notice after traffic concerns were raised by Essex County Council, which said the access road is too narrow to allow two vehicles to pass on Earls Hall Drive, leading to an increased risk of collisions in St John’s Road.

The council said it will now consider what action, if any, it takes next.

The authority suffered a massive social media backlash after it issued the notice and more than 4,000 people signed a petition, launched by mum-of-four Jenny Johnson, 28, from Cambridge Road, Clacton.

She said: "The judge's decision is brilliant news. Hopefully it will give Christmas Wonderland the chance to work with Tendring Council to sort something out about the traffic.

"I started the petition because my children love the place - we've been four times already this year - but I was shocked that so many people backed it.

"It really is so popular and there's nothing else quite like it in Clacton. It's a wonderful experience."