Published On: Sun, Jan 8th, 2023

Jeremy Clarkson drops bid for restaurant at Diddly Squat Farm after planning row with council | UK News


Jeremy Clarkson has dropped his bid for a restaurant on his Diddly Squat farm following a planning row.

The broadcaster, 62, said in a letter to his local council that he “no longer wished” to open the dining venue at his Oxfordshire farm.

It comes after the TV presenter was ordered to shut the restaurant in August this year by West Oxfordshire District Council.

The authority rejected planning permission for the restaurant, based in and around one of the farm’s barns, in January last year.

Clarkson proceeded to open the restaurant in July, saying that he had found a “delightful little loophole” that allowed him to open the venue.

But the authority then issued an enforcement notice, saying the opening of the restaurant represented a “material change of use”.

Clarkson was told to shut the restaurant, or anything selling food to be consumed on the farm, and also ordered to remove dining tables, chairs, parasols and picnic tables.

Now he says he has dropped his plan for the restaurant altogether. Writing to the council to explain the idea behind the plans, he said: “On the farming front, I had read about something called mob grazing.

“This is a highly ecological way of rejuvenating the soil, using the muck from hens and cows, rather than chemical fertilisers.

Diddly Squat Farm was featured on Amazon Prime series. Pic: Amazon Prime Video
Image:
Diddly Squat Farm was featured on Amazon Prime series. Pic: Amazon Prime Video

“The problem was that if I sold the cows in the conventional way, I’d lose about £200 on each one. So I decided that to make a profit, the beef should be cooked and served in a restaurant, which I’d create by converting our lambing barn.

“Permission for this was refused. And our attempts to get round the problem by using permitted development rights, and opening up in our so-called Lowland Barn were thwarted by the enforcement notice we are appealing.

“As a result of this, I’ve had to sell most of the cows I bought. And now I’m back to using chemicals. I no longer wish to open a restaurant.”

‘I don’t want to turn Diddly Squat into Disneyland’

The letter was written to the council as part of an appeal by Clarkson against the authority’s decision to reject his planning application.

Though he is no longer pursuing plans for a restaurant, he is continuing to seek planning permission for part of his application, which would allow the development of on-site parking.

He wrote in his letter: “We do not wish to expand the on-site businesses any further. We are perfectly happy with what we have.

Jeremy Clarkson with fans at the Memorial Hall in Chadlington
Image:
Jeremy Clarkson with fans at the Memorial Hall in Chadlington

“A little shop, and the lambing barn, which can be used for lambing in the spring and as a place for people to sit in the summer while they have food and a glass of our own beer from the mobile van.

“Then they go home with a little something they bought in the shop.

“Contrary to some of the claims being made, I do not want to turn Diddly Squat Farm into Disneyland. It is, after all, where I live.

“But we really do need on-site parking. It’s vital. And lavatories.”

‘Changing traditional village life’

Former Top Gear star Clarkson bought the farm in Chadlington in 2008, but it was previously run by a villager. However, in 2019 he decided to give it a go himself.

The site has become well known since the launch of the Clarkson’s Farm TV series in June 2021.

Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb Cooper in Clarkson's Farm. Pic: Amazon Prime Video
Image:
Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb Cooper in Clarkson’s Farm. Pic: Amazon Prime Video

The success of the series has seen people flock to the farm shop to buy products including “Cow juice” (milk) and “Bee juice” (honey).

But the increased traffic from fans coming to the site, which he runs with partner Lisa Hogan, has sparked upset from locals.

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One resident accused Clarkson of “changing traditional village life”, while another said the broadcaster’s farm shop had resulted “in environmental damage to the village”.

Clarkson met with residents in Chadlington in September 2021 following the “gossip” that had spread about his plans for the site.

A total of 69 public objections were made against the proposals, with just 17 comments in support.

‘I’m proud of what we’ve done’

Writing in his letter to the council, Clarkson admitted his farm had created “traffic problems in the area”, which he recognised had “infuriated some people in the local village”.

He said that he hoped an on-site parking area would alleviate some of the issues.

Clarkson wrote: “Diddly Squat Farm is a good thing. The TV show about it was extremely well received and has an unusual five-star rating on Amazon Prime.

“Farmers, especially, loved it and even gave me an award for highlighting their problems.

“I’m proud of what we have done here and I’m extremely proud of Lisa for what she’s achieved at the shop, in sometimes very trying bureaucratic circumstances.

“I just hope and pray that sensible decisions can now be made, so that it continues to benefit not just us, but so many other businesses in the area.”

The appeal is due to go before the National Planning Inspectorate in March.



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