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Lads who built ‘secret’ den in the woods hit with illegal occupation notice

Lads who built ‘secret’ den in the woods hit with illegal occupation notice

Council chiefs believed there were concerns over 'health and safety issues.'

A group of teenage boys built a 'secret' woodland den whilst they were bored, but it might have to be torn down as council chiefs are concerned over the 'health and safety issues' that the den poses.

The den was hand-built by the lads who decided to craft it after having 'no where else to hang out', but their creation faces potential demolition from East Devon District Council.

They've also said the den constitutes as an 'illegal occupation'.

The group of teen lads built their den from free wood and even decorated it with pictures.

The six boys from Beer, East Devon began building their hangout in November and had only finished its construction a couple of weeks prior to receiving a notice on the door of the den.

One of the boys, Leo Gribble, aged 16, said: "We started building the den in mid November last year as in Beer there's not many places for us to go. We got bored and so decided to give ourselves a little project to do."

"It's been finished for a few weeks now, and we hangout there most weekends - there's still a bit more work to do and we can still do improvements."

The thrifty group of boys made their den from free wood found around the forest and local village.

They even used their 'grandparents tools' to hold the structure in place, before covering it in 'two layers of tarp' and painting it so it looked 'nice'.

The boys even went as far as to lay carpet on the floor on the den and pad it out with outdoor furniture items to make it cosy, as well as board games and paintings to keep them entertained.

The lads built the den after having 'no where else to go'.

After just a couple of weeks of enjoying their makeshift hangout, they were horrified to receive an illegal occupation notice from the local council.

The notice explained that those in 'unauthorised occupation' of the den must vacate the land by Tuesday (February 7) as they have not obtained a 'lease or licence from the legal owner'.

Leo thinks that the notice could have come off the back of one complaint sent to the council.

He said: "One of the other boys went up around two weeks ago and saw there was a letter stapled to the door. He sent it to our group chat and then I put it up on the community Facebook page.

"We are baffled to be honest, I know there was one anonymous complaint to East Devon Council, but I don't see how they can call it trespassing or illegal occupation.

"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."

Leo Gribble, one of the crafty lads who built the den.

However, the lads are now unsure what to do next, with Leo saying: "We've been thinking a couple of things - maybe a protest or a petition."

A spokesperson for the council has since issued a statement, saying: "The ‘den’ has been built near the Undercliff on East Devon District Council land, in an area not accessible by vehicles 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."

They concluded: "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."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS