Jeremy Clarkson is fighting to save his Diddly Squat Farm restaurant in Cotswold as a furious Oxfordfordshire councilor accuses him of wanting the ‘hit’ because it’s ‘good for his ratings’.
The presenter’s fans have blasted ‘jealous locals’ after his restaurant was forced to close following a series of complaints from the ‘red trousers brigade’.
Local Conservative councilor Dean Temple, who sits on West Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee that issued the enforcement notice to Clarkson, said: ‘I told him if he wanted to open the restaurant across the road that would be fine because it is not covered by the AONB rules.
“But I think he was after the confrontation because it would be good for his ratings, so he went to fight us.”
He added: ‘He’s a great guy but what he asked for wasn’t in the rules and we can’t make exceptions for him.
“We have been working with him for a year and a half but he is in breach of planning regulations and a formal legal notice was served on him two weeks ago.”
Jeremy Clarkson is appealing an order to close his Diddly Squat cafe and restaurant after council chiefs claimed the business breached planning laws
An enforcement notice from West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC), published on August 11, told the 62-year-old ex-Top Gear star he had six weeks to make a number of changes to the Chadlington site, which features in his hit Amazon Prime series Clarkson’s Farm.
This included ceasing to use any part of the ground as a restaurant or cafe and the general “sale or supply of food or drink to members of the public for consumption on the ground”.
The local authority also said Clarkson had to remove all portable toilets and all tables that would be used by diners, as well as ‘landscape materials’.
It described an “unlawful” use of the farm and said its “nature, scale and location is unsustainable and incompatible with its rural location in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.
His war raged on on Thursday as council bosses accused him of ‘ignoring’ their orders by continuing to run the cafe and restaurant. Fans were then left disappointed in the afternoon when they arrived to find them closed.
Energy company boss Dan Duffy, 36, told MailOnline: ‘I was in the area and thought I’d call in as I’m a fan. I feel sorry for him facing all these rules. They are not making it easy for business people in this country.
‘I think the objections must be due to jealousy as I don’t see how anyone could complain about a restaurant here, it’s a beautiful place.’
An enforcement notice from West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC), published on August 11, told the 62-year-old Top Gear star he had six weeks to make a number of changes to the Chadlington site, which features on his popular Amazon Prime series. , Clarkson’s Farm
Clarkson had previously snubbed locals who ‘wear red trousers’ to protest the lofty development plans for his successful Diddly Squat business.
The town hall has also banned the sale of produce, except those made on the farm, those made within a 16-mile radius of it, or others permitted by the town.
Engineer Grant Filer, 60, arrived on Thursday with two motorcycle friends and was also disappointed to find the farm’s restaurant and cafe closed.
“We rode down from Oxford after work so it’s disappointing,” he said, “I don’t think they should close it as I’m sure it would be very popular.”
Another woman arriving to buy some milk from a “cow juice” machine outside the Farm Shop said she thought the advice was ridiculous.
‘I don’t see what the problem is,’ she said, ‘he brings business to the area. They are queuing to get into his shop so it would be a success.’
Clarkson’s problem is that his planned restaurant is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) where such developments are not permitted.
The council has described an “illegal” use of the farm, saying its “nature, scale and location is unsustainable and incompatible with its rural location within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”
In the summer, Clarkson opened another restaurant in a cowshed, two fields away from his popular shop.
Diners were taken to their seats on trailers pulled by a tractor.
A local opponent, who did not want to be named, said: ‘He invited 40 of us from the village and served us seven courses prepared by an award-winning chef.
‘It was all filmed for his Amazon show and the restaurant itself barely lasted a week. It was simply for the benefit of the cameras.
‘He just constantly pushes the rules. He’s not allowed to sell anything in his shop that isn’t made locally, but he wants to sell his goods, so he charges £20 for a potato and gives them a free t-shirt.
“He stated that he closed as a sign of respect for the Queen’s funeral, but he never opened on Monday anyway. That’s how he chases publicity”.
Jo Hooley, 60, an estate agent who lives in the nearby village of Chadlington, said: ‘The cars arriving at his shop and restaurant make life very difficult for us. People park on the sides of the road leading to the village and buses cannot pass.
‘What I think is really sad is how he has divided the village. Half are with him, half against him, and that’s all people talk about.’
Another villager, a 46-year-old woman who asked not to be named, said: ‘His followers can make life quite uncomfortable.
‘I don’t think the rules should be changed for him. There are plenty of places where he could put a restaurant if that’s what he wants. I think all he really wants is to stir things up and keep his name out there.’
Agents working on behalf of Mr. Clarkson and the estate have denied any breach of planning laws and are appealing the ruling, describing the council’s demands as ‘excessive’ in documents sent last month.
The council hit back on Thursday with a strongly worded statement slamming the presenter for not following its orders.
He was told to cease using any part of the ground as a restaurant or cafe, and the general “sale or supply of food or drink to members of the public for consumption on the ground”
A spokesman said: ‘West Oxfordshire District Council issued an enforcement notice to the owners of Diddly Squat Farm in respect of planning breaches at the site on 12 August 2022.
‘Council officers have been working with the business owner and planning agents over many months to investigate breaches of planning controls, advise on how the business can be run legally and try to find a solution.
‘The business continues to operate outside the granted planning permission and advice has been ignored. The activity has also had great significance for the local community.
‘The council is pursuing enforcement action to ensure that planning legislation is followed on 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 council’s responsibility to ensure that planning laws and processes are followed correctly. Over recent years, the company 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 fence enforcement order requires the owners of the company to stop activity in violation of the planning control.
‘The council has recently become aware that the owners of Diddly Squat Farm have appealed the enforcement, which is common practice in planning enforcement proceedings.’
It added that an inspector will determine the complaint and the council will explain why it “believes the notice should be upheld and the appeal dismissed”.
John Phillips Planning Consultancy wrote in their complaint against the enforcement order on September 9 that existing planning permission gives them the right to use the farm as a restaurant and that there has been no “substantial change” to the land.
Bosses added that the map of the site produced by the council was incorrect and claimed the notice period was not long enough to carry out the necessary work.
The appeal reads: ‘The proposed six week period is too short and will have serious and damaging effects on the business and livelihoods of those employed on site. Six months is a more reasonable time frame.’
The agents concluded that the order “should be canceled in its entirety as a result”.
A price list at Diddly Squat cafe and restaurant today, which remains open despite the council’s order
Papers provided by the Planning Inspectorate show it has accepted Mr Clarkson’s appeal as valid and that statements are to be made in the coming weeks.
It is believed that Mr Clarkson believed he was able to run the restaurant after making alterations to a barn on his land using a clause that allowed the use of agricultural structures to be adjusted from their original purpose without council-approved planning permission.
But WODC said in August it was investigating the restaurant after councilors rejected its original planning application in January.
A council source, who refused to comment on the local authority’s ongoing investigation, told MailOnline at the time: ‘The council’s view is that the same planning rules should apply to everyone.
“We will treat Jeremy Clarkson in exactly the same way as any other resident of West Oxfordshire.”
At Clarkson’s Farm, the star works on his 1,000-acre estate, located between Chipping Norton and Chadlington in the idyllic Cotswolds countryside of Oxfordshire.
The former petrol head seems to have settled for a peaceful farming lifestyle as part of his new hit Amazon Prime series.
But the show’s roaring success – and the opening of the popular farm shop – created chaos for villagers who complained of visitors clogging up the country roads.
Clarkson’s representatives have been contacted for further comment.