Council gets very heavy handed over den teenagers built in woods

A den built by a group of teenagers could soon be torn down after a claim of ‘illegal occupation’.

It was created, from spare pieces of wood and blue paint, near a coastal path in a forest in Beer, East Devon.

The teenagers built the den because there’s ‘not much really’ for young people to do in the village.

Leo Gribble, 16, told Devon Live: ‘It’s a small village so we didn’t have many places to go so we found an old concrete slab in the forest and we decided to look around for spare wood and it became a big thing after that.

‘As you go into the den, you’ve got carpet, safe walls, we’ve got lights, paintings, board games to play, outdoor furniture.’

But the teenagers behind the den could now see it demolished over a claim of ‘illegal occupation’ by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

The notice says that those in ‘unauthorised occupation’ of the den must vacate the land by February 7, having not obtained ‘lease or licence from the legal owner’.

According to Leo, locals believe that the notice is the result of a single complaint to EDDC.

An EDDC spokesperson responded and said: ‘The “den” has been built near the Undercliff on East Devon District Council land, in an area not accessible by vehicle on a steep site, without the proper permissions.

‘Following a complaint, we investigated the site and found a wooden shack made from drilled-together wooden pallets, along with a fire pit, rope swing, beer cans etc. There were numerous health and safety issues and as we are liable for the land and what happens on it, our hands our legally tied.

‘This sadly means we will have to remove the items as we cannot risk the safety of someone’s child.

‘We know there are mixed feelings locally and we hope the local community can understand this decision, even if they don’t agree with it.’

The boys first became aware that there was a notice for the den when one of them went up and noticed a letter attached to it.

Leo subsequently took to the Beer community Facebook page to share the news, which attracted the attention of a Beer Parish councillor who is reportedly disputing the notice on the teens’ behalf.

Beer Parish Council has reportedly shown the boys an alternative, council-owned site but Leo says it’s difficult for them to get to compared to their current spot.

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