Jeremy Clarkson refused planning permission for Diddly Squat expansion

Former Top Gear presenter argued his proposal was ‘diversification of a farming business’

Joe Middleton
Monday 10 January 2022 21:35 GMT
The former Top Gear host made a last-ditch attempt to get his plans for Diddly Squat approved
The former Top Gear host made a last-ditch attempt to get his plans for Diddly Squat approved (PA)

Jeremy Clarkson has failed in his plan to expand his Diddly Squat farming operation after councillors rejected his planning application.

The star of Clarkson’s Farm wanted to build a new 70 space car park and 60-seat restaurant on the site close to the village of Chadlington, Oxfordshire.

The 61-year-old former Top Gear host turned up in person at a meeting of West Oxfordshire District Council today to make a personal plea to councillors to back his plans.

Mr Clarkson told the meeting: “It is diversification of a farming business. We have already started talking to our neighbouring farmers.”

He added: “Farmers look after the woodland, they look after the hedges, the streams and the fields - they keep it beautiful.

“Farmers are not going to be able to do that for much longer because of the farmer’s state of finances. We have been told as farmers to diversify - that is exactly what this proposal is.”

Councillors at the meeting of West Oxfordshire District Council supported the planners recommended to refuse permission on the grounds the restaurant would be “out of keeping” with the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Kaleb Cooper (left) and Jeremy Clarkson at the British Farming Awards in Birmingham in October last year (PA)

A total of 53 objections were received by the council, with another 12 letters of support.

Council planning officer Joan Desmond stated: “By reason of its siting, design, scale and location, the proposed development would not be sustainable and would not be compatible or consistent in scale with the existing farming business or its open countryside location.”

She said: “By reason of its design, scale, siting and nature of the use within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposed development would have a visually intrusive and harmful impact on the rural character, scenic beauty and tranquillity of the area.”

Despite the refusal, opinion among councillors during the meeting was divided.

Councillor Merilyn Davies said: “We have to support farmers and diversification, we live in a rural area.”

Councillor Dean Temple, who represents Chadlington, said it was a “very difficult case”, adding: “With a heavy heart, I propose we reject this proposal.”

The TV presenter whose runaway hit show Clarkson‘s Farm has brought countless visitors to the area, had hoped to convert a lambing shed built in 2020 after a new flock of sheep was bought to diversify the farm business.

Documents state the building has since been used, without planning permission, as a cafe and a bar area.

Chadlington Parish Council said it held a public meeting in November to decide its view on the “divisive and contentious” application but a vote was inconclusive.

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) West Oxfordshire said any new restaurant would be a “major incursion” into the AONB and would “spoil the rural nature of the Upper Evenlode Valley”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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