Woodland den built by teenage boys to be pulled down over health and safety fears
A 'secret' woodland den built by a group of teenage boys because they were bored may have to be pulled down over 'health and safety' concerns.
The handmade den constructed by six teenage boys who had "no where else to hang out" faces demolition by the area's local council, which also said it constituted "illegal occupation".
The rudimentary cabin was built near Beer in East Devon on a concrete slab that was already there.
But just weeks after its creators finished it, a notice appeared on the door warning that it could be knocked down.
Leo Gribble, 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.
"We built it by looking for free wood from the forest, and then a few local people from the village gave us wood to use as well.
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"We used our grandparents tools - like drills and saws - to get the wooden structure up. Then we covered it in two layers of tarp and painted it over so it looks nice."
He said they had even laid carpet on the floor inside, as well as some furniture and board games to keep them entertained.
But an illegal occupation notice from East Devon District Council said those in "unauthorised occupation" of the den must vacate the land by Tuesday (7 February ) because they have not obtained a "lease or licence from the legal owner".
Leo 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."
He said they have been left unsure what to do next and are considering launching a petition or staging a protest.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the council said: "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.
"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."