COUNCIL bosses who insist a garden centre is trading illegally have welcomed the business’s promise to appeal against enforcement action.

Bosses at St John’s Plant Centre, in Clacton, say they have every right to continue their popular Christmas Wonderland attraction.

Tendring Council served an enforcement notice on the centre last month, after advising the firm it was operating outside of its planning permission.

Last year, the council made a failed application for a High Court injunction to shut the event down due to traffic “chaos”.

But the garden centre has vowed to continue trading as normal and is preparing to host the festive event.

Council bosses say they were “minded to approve” an application from the business to improve the access road, but the firm appealed before the decision was made.

Fred Nicholls, councillor responsible for corporate enforcement, said the council had been engaging with the business at every stage.

“We are not against business success, and do a lot of work to support businesses in Tendring,” he said.

“What we are against are businesses operating outside of planning permission.

“Last year when a High Court judge turned down our application for a temporary injunction against the Winter Wonderland, he instructed all sides to work together to resolve the issues – and we have been doing just that.

“It is disappointing that we have got to this stage, and that the nursery is looking to put on a Christmas Wonderland despite warnings from us throughout the year that we would deem it in breach of planning permission.”

He added: “However, I welcome comments made in the local press by the nursery that it intends to appeal against our enforcement notice.

“This may seem unusual, but if the nursery appeals – and in effect therefore enters a planning application, which will be dealt with by a planning inspector – then a judgement can be made on this issue once and for all, and we can all draw a line under it.”

Tendring Council added that it believes the centre’s application to widen an access road does not go far enough to address concerns.

Mr Nicholls said: “The suggestion by the nursery that its site use and access are equivalent to applications approved by us for nearby housing developments, with new, acceptable road junctions is a gross oversimplification of planning matters.”