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Garden centre embroiled in long-running spat with council goes into liquidation

PUBLISHED: 13:24 18 January 2019

St John's Plant Centre's Christmas Wonderland. Picture: Archant

St John's Plant Centre's Christmas Wonderland. Picture: Archant

Archant

A garden centre which has been tainted by controversy for the last two years over its Christmas Wonderland attraction is now closing down.

St John's Plant Centre Clacton at ChristmasSt John's Plant Centre Clacton at Christmas

St John’s Plant Centre, Earls Hall Drive, Clacton-on-Sea, was closed to the public today and the liquidator Mark Reynolds at Valentine & Co has just been appointed.

The garden centre has made the headlines every Christmas for the last few years because of its popular Christmas Wonderland attraction, which in the run up to Christmas, would cause traffic tailbacks along its narrow access road, Earls Hall Drive.

The Winter Wonderland featured a miniature train which took children through a mystical grotto to meet Santa, and brought thousands of visitors to the area every year from across East Anglian and even from London.

Tendring District Council was embroiled in a dispute with St John’s over traffic concerns resulting from the influx of visitors, as well as with planning issues, as the site only had permission to operate as a wholesale outlet selling horticultural and agricultural goods to trade customers.

St John's Plant Centre Clacton at ChristmasSt John's Plant Centre Clacton at Christmas

The landowners have submitted a planning application for redevelopment of the garden centre site.

The scheme is for 210 homes and eight live-work units, but do not include plans for a garden centre.

A petition to wind up the company was presented by HM Revenue and Customs on November 19.

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