Jeremy Clarkson: Diddly Squat Farm's planning battles history as he hits new hurdle

The Clarkson's Farm star has had his application to expand his carpark turned down yet again by the local council.

Jeremy Clarkson at the Memorial Hall in Chadlington, where he held a showdown meeting with local residents over concerns about his Oxfordshire farm shop. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jeremy Clarkson is getting buried in paperwork as he tried to expand his farm shop. (Getty Images)

Jeremy Clarkson's ongoing planning battle to expand his Diddly Squat Farm Shop has taken a new twist - after he was told he doesn't need to plant so many trees.

The former Top Gear presenter has been locked in an ongoing dispute with West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxford County Council for several years over his ambition to build a large carpark and restaurant on his farm land.

The Clarkson's Farm star has blamed local bureaucracy making it difficult to turn Diddly Squat into a profitable business. And the council has denied treating him differently than any other planning applicant.

Clarkson's Farm (Amazon Prime Video)
Jeremy Clarkson wants to expand his farm shop and carpark. (Amazon Prime Video)

So what is the problem with Clarkson's plans and why does he keep getting caught up in red tape?

We sift through the paperwork of the TV star's clashes with the local authorities as he tries to keep his farm afloat.

Natural beauty

Clarkson's Farm stars Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb in a field  (Prime Video)
Clarkson's Farm is located in the Cotswolds, a protected area of natural beauty. (Prime Video)

Clarkson's original carpark application was turned down on the grounds it would damage the "natural beauty" of the area.

Diddly Squat Farm in the village of Chadlington is situated in the picturesque Cotswolds, a popular tourist destination and location of celebrity country residences, and also a protected area of scenic English countryside.

In May 2022 the local district council turned down Clarkson's plans for a 70 space carpark on the site, telling him it would be: "Visually intrusive and harmful impact on the rural character, scenic beauty and tranquillity of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

But now the latest refusal from the the council states his proposals to protect the view by planing large trees to create a tall hedgerow is too ambitious.

A landscape and forestry officer has said a three metre-high hedgerow and “a few crab apple and field maple” saplings is all that is required.

Parking problems

Chipping Norton, UK - March 12, 2023: Crowds of visitors queuing at  Diddly Squat Farm Shop opened in 2020 by Jeremy Clarkson.
Crowds of visitors queuing at Diddly Squat Farm Shop in March 2023. (Alamy)

When Clarkson first opened his Diddly Squat Farm Shop in early 2020 the country was coming out of lockdown and he struggled to attract many customers.

But then word got out that the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire host had opened his own shop and might be serving behind the counter and fans started flocking to try and catch a glimpse of the The Grand Tour star.

The roads became congested with traffic as crowds headed to the farm, and with only a small field available to park in customers started blocking country lanes by parking on the verges.

The police had to intervene to solve the traffic problem and Clarkson issued a public apology to local residents.

The problem only got worse when Clarkson's Farm began to air on TV and media attention highlighted the parking problems.

When the shop reopened after the winter in 2023 the council issued a warning about traffic and parking in anticipation to the chaos Clarkson's customers might cause.

Dining out

Jeremy Clarkson attends the Hawkstone lager launch on November 25, 2021 in Bourton-on-the-Water, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Hawkstone)
Jeremy Clarkson tired to open a steak restaurant but it was shut down. (Getty Images for Hawkstone)

Building on the success of his shop, Clarkson was determined to open a restaurant on the site, to offer his hoards of customers even more to spend their money on.

But the the TV presenter's proposed steak restaurant was hit by repeated set backs after he was refused planning permission to convert his lambing shed into a 60 seat restaurant.

Clarkson then gleefully declared he had found a "cunning little loophole" to serve food in his shepherd's hut as a rough-and-ready dining experience, serving roast beef, sparkling wine and strawberries in a shack.

His victory over the local council planning department was short lived and the eatery was shut down for breaching planning rules.

Clarkson appealed the decision but the Diddly Squat restaurant remains closed.

NIMBY neighbours

Jeremy Clarkson at the Memorial Hall in Chadlington, where he held a showdown meeting with local residents over concerns about his Oxfordshire farm shop. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jeremy Clarkson held a meeting in his local village hall to appease his neighbours. (Getty Images)

With Diddly Squat Farm Shop being blamed for all the traffic congestion on roads and crowds of fans trampling across footpaths, Clarkson was not making any new friends among the residents of Chadlington village.

Planning applications are made open to local residents and they are invited to submit objections before the council make their decision - so Clarkson needed them on side.

In a bid to appease his neighbours the journalist and TV presenter held a public meeting in his local village hall, offering guests cheese and wine and answering questions about his plans for the farm expansion.

He told them: "You have my complete sympathy. I am just as keen as you are to try to manage the situation.

"We were overwhelmed by what happened after the show launched. We had no idea of the impact it would have. Now we can stop and think about how we can continue to employ 15 people on the farm and making it grow while not spoiling anyone's life in the village."

Celebrity status

Jeremy Clarkson attends the ITV Autumn Entertainment Launch at White City House on August 30, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Nick England/Getty Images)
Jeremy Clarkson's local council have denied treating him any differently. (Getty Images)

As his planning woes rumble on, the Clarkson's Farm star has claimed the council have a "personal vendetta" against him.

The local council has issued a statement denying they are targeting the outspoken broadcaster and self-confessed petrol-head.

The Oxford County planning department insists Clarkson has been treated just like everybody else.

Following an episode of his Amazon Prime featuring the planning battles they said: "We understand that the planning process shown in season two of Clarkson’s Farm can seem obstructive and that people will be confused by the planning decisions at Diddly Squat Farm.

"As with any other planning authority, we have a legal responsibility to make sure that planning laws and policies are followed correctly by everyone... This is regardless of who they are and we treat Diddly Squat Farm no differently."

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