Diary: Inspector shuts down Winter Wonderland

It would appear that not even Santa and his elves are immune to planning laws. A Winter Wonderland attraction at an Essex nursery (pictured) is set to close after a planning inspector upheld an enforcement notice against it.

The Winter Wonderland attraction (pic: Tendring District Council)
The Winter Wonderland attraction (pic: Tendring District Council)

A mixed-use garden centre, including the temporary Christmas-themed attraction, had been operating unlawfully from St John’s Nursery outside Clacton-on-Sea, Tendring District Council officers found. According to inspector Diane Fleming’s report, the Winter Wonderland event features an electric train running to a Santa’s Grotto, animatronic Christmas displays, fairground rides and even a 100m-long Charles Dickens-themed shopping street. But Fleming said she found the site’s mixed use "results in unacceptable harm to the living conditions of local residents and businesses due to traffic congestion". However, she avoided dismissing the appeal with the phrase "bah, humbug".

With the housing crisis, high street decline and global climate change, most planners probably think they have more than enough to occupy them here on Planet Earth. However, a lecturer in urban planning at Birmingham University is wondering how planners feel "towards human encounters with outer space". In an online survey, Dr David Adams asks planners to identify the "challenges and opportunities associated with human engagements with outer space", including space tourism and asteroid mining. One small step for man, one giant leap for town planners...

News of another academic, this time at Oxford University. Professor Danny Dorling, a fellow at St Peter’s College, argues that geography degrees – the favoured options of many town planners, including the late Sir Peter Hall – have "become a soft option for those who come from upper middle class families", especially those who "are not actually that good at maths, or writing, or reading, or science, or imagination". In a paper published on the ScienceDirect website, the professor added that many geography graduates embark on professions that "make the world an even worse place". No doubt those who go on to become town planners would strongly disagree!

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