Greenbelt nature attraction shut down

Simon Donohue

The operators of an educational nature attraction built on greenbelt land near Congleton without permission have agreed to remove all unauthorised buildings and structures from the site.

Cheshire East Council lodged an application for an injunction at the High Court against Leo Deen and Catherine Wincote in connection with the persistent unauthorised use of land at Pedley Lane for The Timbersbrook Project.

The authority says the legal action was necessary because Mr Deen and Ms Wincote were in breach of an enforcement notice relating to an unauthorised change of use of land from agricultural use to recreational and educational use in the Green Belt.

During their appearance at Birmingham High Court on Wednesday 12 June, Mr Deen and Ms Wincote signed an undertaking to remove all unauthorised buildings and structures, animal shelters, walkways, toilets and classroom from the site and to stop any unauthorised educational and recreational use within two months.

They were warned that they may be sent to prison if they fail to carry out these steps.

The land surrounding Timbers Brook was occupied by the Silver Springs Bleaching and Dyeing Works until 1966, when it was demolished.

Cheshire East Council leader Cllr Michael Jones, said: "It is a real tragedy that this has had to go this far. Mr Deen did not work with the council and chose to ignore the council's enforcement action.

"The public rightfully expects that the council as a local planning authority protects and preserves designated areas and this use represented an unacceptable development in the Green Belt.

"The court's acceptance of the undertaking demonstrates Cheshire East Council was justified in taking action against the Timbersbrook Project."

A statement on the Timbersbrook Project website reads: "Due to Cheshire East taking us to Birmingham high court for a permanent injunction, we will have to stop the public coming to the project until further notice.
"Thank you for all your support. We are hoping to reopen soon."

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