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We built our own den in the woods… but council jobsworths are tearing it down after ONE complaint – it’s not fair

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A DEN built by a group of teens is being torn down by the council after receiving just one complaint.
The clubhouse, situated near a coastal path, could soon be demolished over a claim of ‘illegal occupation’ by East Devon District Council.
A den built by local teenagers near Beer village, Devon2A den built by local teenagers near Beer village, DevonCredit: Devon Live/BPMIt may have to be torn down after a single complaint2It may have to be torn down after a single complaintCredit: Devon Live/BPMA nearby swing that has been loved by locals for at least two decades could also be removed.
A group of teenage boys from the village of Beer in East Devon have been told that a den they built near the Undercliff is ‘unsafe’ and could be torn down in just two weeks’ time.
According to one of the boys, the den has been built on an old concrete slab completely from scratch, with materials they sourced themselves.
Leo Gribble, 16, said: “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.
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“As you go into the den, you’ve got carpet, safe walls, we’ve got lights, paintings, board games to play, outdoor furniture.”
The project has now been hit by an illegal occupation notice, following an investigation by East Devon District Council. 
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, who has now said that a number of factors means that their “hands are legally tied” and they have been left with no choice but to remove the structure.

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.
Leo said: “Yesterday afternoon, I went up with one of the parish councillors to show them the place and they said they’d write up about it on Tuesday so hopefully we hear some news from there.”
When asked what he understood by EDDC’s safety concerns, he said: “They’ve said that there was a rope swing but the rope swing isn’t a part of the den, it’s been on the Jubilee for decades, from what I’ve heard and it hasn’t been a problem until now.
He went on: “There’s nothing really for teenagers to do [in Beer]. There’s a football club and most of us are a part of that but other than that, there’s not much really.
“I’d like to know a full reasoning as to why there’s been such a complaint about it and if there’s anything we can do to at least help so we can keep it and it’s ok with them.”
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Beer Parish Council has reportedly shown the boys an alternative, council-owned site but Leo says it’s difficult for them to get to.
He said: “We’ve been brought to a field owned by the parish council but it’s quite a far way from the place that we’ve already done it which is quite a trek to get to. It’s right by a main road so it’s not very safe at all.”

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