Jeremy Clarkson contesting notice to shut farm cafe and restaurant

The 62-year-old broadcaster’s Oxfordshire farm has attracted a lot of attention since his Amazon Studios series Clarkson’s Farm.

Clarkson’s farm sales
Clarkson’s farm sales

Jeremy Clarkson is appealing against an enforcement notice that had ordered his restaurant and cafe at his Oxfordshire farm to be shut.

The 62-year-old broadcaster opened his Diddly Squat Farm’s restaurant, in Chipping Norton Road, Chadlington, in July.

He had previously had two planning applications rejected by West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC).

WODC took action in August saying in its enforcement notice that the parking, toilets, traffic, along with the dining, installed by Clarkson’s farm is “visually intrusive and harmful” to the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The unlawful use of Diddly Squat Farm by reason of its nature, scale and siting is unsustainable and incompatible with its open countryside location,” the local council stated.

It then ordered the shutting of the restaurant or anything selling food that will be consumed on the farm and also ordered the removal of the dining tables, chairs, parasols, picnic tables, and mobile toilet.

In the enforcement notice, it said there should be no retail food sold that does not come from the farm, within 16-mile (25.7km) of the farm or that has been allowed by the council, and also said the converted barn, where the restaurant is housed, must be returned to its original state.

Clarkson’s farm sales
Filming on Diddly Squat Farm (Blackball Media/PA)

Agents working on behalf of Clarkson say they are not in breach of planning laws, claiming that the council’s decision is “excessive”.

The John Phillips Planning Consultancy write in their September 9 appeal against the enforcement notice that existing planning permission gives them the right to use the farm as a restaurant, and there has been no “material change” to the land.

The appeal adds that Diddly Squat’s sale of food and use of tables and chairs are all “lawful” and it would take longer than the six weeks that the council has given them to remove the items.

The Planning Inspectorate, a Government agency, have accepted Clarkson’s appeal and are yet to set a date for a hearing.

He bought the farm in 2008 and it was run by a villager but, when he retired in 2019, the TV presenter decided to see if he could run it himself.

The farm has proved popular with visitors ever since Amazon Studios series Clarkson’s Farm broadcast last June.

The success of the series has seen people flock to the farm shop to buy products such as Cow Juice, rapeseed oil, chutneys and jams.

Reports have previously said neighbours had been left annoyed by the amount of shoppers who have queued for hours to purchase goods.

In March, the former Top Gear presenter reapplied for planning permission for a car park extension on his farm and a “new storage compound and associated landscaping”.

This was rejected in May by WODC, which gave its refusal reasons in its notice of decision by saying that due to its location, size and design the proposed development would “have a visually intrusive and harmful impact on the rural character, scenic beauty and tranquillity” of the area.

A WODC spokesperson said: “West Oxfordshire District Council served an enforcement notice on the owners of Diddly Squat Farm in respect of planning breaches on the site on August 12, 2022.

Clarkson’s Farm launch event – London
Jeremy Clarkson and his partner Lisa Hogan at the Amazon Prime Video launch event for Clarkson’s Farm (Ian West/PA)

“Council officers have worked with the owner and planning agents of the business, over many months, to investigate breaches in planning control, advising on how the business can be operated in a lawful way and trying to reach a solution.

“The business continues to operate outside the planning permissions granted and advice has been ignored. The activity has also had a significant impact on the local community.

“The council is pursuing enforcement action to ensure that planning laws are followed on the site in the same way as they would be for any other business operating across the district and within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“It is the responsibility of the council to ensure that planning laws and processes are followed correctly. Over recent years the business has had several planning applications approved, where they are in line with national and local planning policy, and also some refused where they are not.

“We work constructively and successfully with many businesses across West Oxfordshire, including farms, to help them operate within the national and local planning laws and policies that exist to protect the countryside and local communities.

“The enforcement notice instructs the owners of the business to stop activity in breach of planning control.

“The council has recently become aware that the owners of Diddly Squat Farm have appealed the enforcement notice, which is common practice in planning enforcement cases.”

It added an inspector will decide the appeal and the council will explain why it “considers the notice should be upheld and the appeal dismissed”.

Representatives for Mr Clarkson have been contacted for comment.

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