Erpel/Kretzhaus Gary Blackburn has created a private amusement park, even including a tank on his property in Linz-Kretzhaus, which is not appreciated by everyone. The local council is threatening the native Englishman with eviction of the leased land.
The Erpeler local council has granted the British-born Gary Blackburn a last reprieve for his bizarre open-air museum "Little Britain" in Kretzhaus. Unanimously, with Mayor Günter Hirzmann abstaining, the elected representatives spoke out in favour of giving the head of the tree service the opportunity for the last time to submit all necessary documents for the overdue urban land use planning.
At the same time, the council made it a condition that the once public hiking trail, which Blackburn had bought from the railroad years ago, be returned to the community by way of a land swap; the community had not realised its right of first refusal for the trail at the time. An amicable solution was also in his interest, Blackburn told the GA. In addition, he will dismantle parts of his exhibition.
As reported, Blackburn had applied for the urban land use planning for "Little Britain" in March 2018, but had not received the necessary documents. He can now make up for this omission until mid-November. If the documents are then "not complete and resilient", all land owned by the community and leased by Blackburn must be cleared by January 1, according to the council's decision.
To make Blackburn aware of the seriousness of the situation, the council members instructed the administration to terminate Blackburn's lease of these public lands by December 31. However, if the necessary documents were properly submitted in November, the council would "decide on the initiation of the proposed development plan in one of the coming council meetings, without prejudice to the outcome".
As a reminder: out of anger over the Brexit decision, Blackburn had collected everything that reminded him of his homeland on the land he had leased from the municipality since 2014 as well as on areas of his forestry operation on the outskirts of Kretzhaus around a hiking trail to the Rheinsteig. Arthurian knights and palace wax soldiers, the hut of Robin Hood, a double-decker bus, red telephone booths and a figure of the Queen have been on display since 2016. Even a 52-ton Centurion tank from the 1950s is part of the exhibition.
However, the building permit for all this is missing, which the district administration had already criticised in 2018. "We have shown concessions long enough. If Gary Blackburn doesn't finally submit the necessary documents now, he will have to clear the area with the fairytale forest covering around 3,000 square metres," says Gisela Stahl (CDU).
At the latest now, the Briton can no longer make the "excuse" his architect and he do not know exactly which documents are required. He has to submit a description of the business, a binding promise that the hiking trail will be transferred to the local community, a statement from the Landesbetrieb Mobilität for the junction area to the district road, and the approval of the forestry office for "Little Britain".
In addition, Blackburn must also designate compensation areas for the area it occupies and provide evidence of a secure water supply and wastewater disposal system. The British citizen with dual citizenship has repeatedly given assurances that, in the event of a positive decision by the mandate holders, he will assume all costs associated with the urban land use planning and its implementation.
"Already in May we demanded that 60 public parking spaces and two employee parking spaces as well as a turning area be built, which can also be used by the fire department and forestry," said Werner Henneker. Blackburn must finally show that it is willing to cooperate with the community, said the CDU faction leader. Otherwise he could move to Kalenborn. There, next to the former gourmet restaurant Nattermann, there is already a red telephone booth and the mailbox of Mister Bean. A branch of "Little Britain" has been established on Bahnhofstraße.
Blackburn said in response to a GA inquiry that he would not stand in the way of a compromise line. Blackburn: "We have been here for 25 years with the company and as a family and we want to stay here. But of course the company has grown over the years. Since it is difficult to prove that the compensation areas currently demanded by the council are sufficient, he will now clear areas, reduce the size of "Little Britain" and create parking space. This is "certainly the easier way," said Blackburn.
In his view, there was also nothing to prevent the hiking trail from being exchanged for municipal areas on the railroad embankment. In addition, an appointment with his architect is pending because of the approval issue. Blackburn: "Everyone should be satisfied with the solution.”
(Original text: Horst-Dieter Küsters and Claudia Sülzen, Translation: Mareike Graepel)