Jeremy Clarkson wants to buy West Midlands pub as locals welcome plan

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson attends the Amazon Prime Video launch event for Clarkson's Farm at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London. Picture date: Wednesday June 9, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire -Credit:Ian West/PA Wire

Jeremy Clarkson wants to buy a West Midlands pub to "champion British farming" amid praise from villagers, despite concerns over increased tourist traffic. The 'Diddly Squat Farm' proprietor is reportedly eyeing the Coach and Horses Inn, a Grade II listed establishment.

Discussions have been taking place with Hawkstone Brewery, which currently leases the pub. It's understood that Clarkson, 66, wants to give a boost to the local agricultural sector, while balancing that with residents' desire for peace and quiet.

Local councillor Jon Wareing acknowledged the existing traffic issues as a "huge headache" at the pub in Bourton-on-the-Water, and noted that if Clarkson were to manage the pub, there would be a notable rise in traffic that would need dealing with. He said: "As far as Jeremy Clarkson's intentions with the pub are concerned, I understand he's passionate about championing British farming and one way to do that is to ensure a local pub serves locally produced food and drinks in a family atmosphere with affordable pricing."

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He added: "I'm totally supportive of measures that support our local farming community - they continue to have a really tough time of things - and we have great local meats, cheeses and other fresh produce that we should be celebrating," reports the Express.

Mr Wareing also discussed the traffic situation in the Gloucestershire village, and noted that parking scarcity is already a significant issue for the village, which is known for its low bridges, traditional stone houses and riverside setting. He said: "On a sunny weekend, particularly Bank Holiday weekends, the Fosseway is frequently gridlocked between Moreton-in-Marsh, through Stow-on-the-Wold and on to Bourton-on-the-Water."

He also speculated on the potential impact of Jeremy Clarkson's fame. He said: "With Jeremy Clarkson's popularity, if he were to have bought the Coach and Horses, who knows how much more additional traffic would be generated.

"Bourton-on-the-Water already has major issues with visitor traffic and we desperately need a park and walk/ride car park on the periphery of the village so the centre of the village does not get gridlocked. It can easily take you 50 minutes to traverse the village. Imagine if you need an ambulance in an emergency. It doesn't bear thinking about."

However, some locals expressed optimism about the rumoured takeover and Clarkson's popularity. Edward Charnel, who operates the Bloody Bourton Walking Tour, told "I think it would be very good for the village. It's going to bring tourists in. People visit the farm because Jeremy Clarkson owns it. The brewery gets more visitors now because of him. We need visitors so local businesses can make money. I'm all for it."

Jeremy Clarkson's Diddly Squat Farm Shop near Chadlington in Oxfordshire during the opening weekend following its winter closure
A general view of Jeremy Clarkson's Diddly Squat Farm Shop near Chadlington in Oxfordshire during the opening weekend following its winter closure. -Credit:Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

One of the co-owners of Broadlands Hotel, Rob Grant-Smith, told "It would be great if he were to get hold of the pub. He would have a big following going down there. He's done good highlighting farming issues with Diddly Squat Farm. I wouldn't object to it."

Both Grant-Smith and Mr Charnel admitted transport could pose a challenge, but given the village's location on a main road, many say it is always under pressure. The Coach and Horses Inn, positioned opposite Hawkstone Brewery, got its new premises license from Cotswold District Council earlier this year.

Owned by the Stonegate Group, the 18th-century watering hole received permission to sell alcohol every day of the week between 11am and 11pm. Reportedly, the pub will house tenants in the future, with marketing for it currently under way on Stonegate's website. Locals say the site was most recently a pub and curry house.

In March this year, Clarkson allegedly visited Gloucestershire County Council to discuss potential traffic problems surrounding the establishment. Negotiations for a licence for the Coach and Horses have been ongoing as the previous pub licence had become void, and a new one was required before it could be sold again.

Commenting on this discussion, Mr Wareing said: "The Stonegate licence application was toned down following a constructive meeting with the Parish Council earlier in the year. It was not the intention to turn the Coach and Horses into a nightclub or an open-air cinema as it turned out. The revised licence application was subsequently approved by the licensing committee of CDC (Cotswolds District Council)."

Jeremy Clarkson at the Memorial Hall in Chadlington in September 2021, where he held a showdown meeting with local residents over concerns about his Oxfordshire farm shop
Jeremy Clarkson -Credit:PA

Noise complaints have also been raised, with initial plans for events at Hawkstone Brewery across the road being withdrawn after causing concern among local residents. The brewery had proposed a licence extension for its tap-room to accommodate larger scale events of up to 4,000 people, according to Mr Wareing. However, this was withdrawn as it was "recognised as being excessive".

Mr Wareing commented: "I've found the management at Hawkstone Brewery to be really co-operative in their desire to be a good neighbour. Largely the reputation of the brewery has been very positive with local people welcoming a convivial outdoor space to enjoy the locally produced cider and beers with a selection of street food offerings.

"The main problem has been noise that carries from some of the events last year where nearby residents were being disturbed late into the night with loud music, and stand-up comedy with offensive language, being audible indoors to families with young children on neighbouring estates.

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson -Credit:2019 Getty Images

"This was clearly unacceptable and the Hawkstone management team are now on top of this situation. The other issue was light pollution from strings of lights that were being left on through the night. Again, this has been dealt with. A dialogue between the brewery and local residents is ongoing."

Currently, Hawkstone's involvement with the Coach and Horses is "on hold", yet an effective collaboration between all engaged parties may lead to a mutually beneficial outcome. Mr Wareing said: "In the future, maybe there is the possibility that Hawkstone Brewery could be part of the solution to getting visitor parking out of the centre of the village. That could be a great win-win scenario for all concerned."

He then mentioned another possible advantage: "It might also address the issue of where the coaches that visit Bourton could park, and drop-off/pick up their passengers, now that there is no longer any managed provision for coach parking in the village."

Lastly, he reflected: "My experience on this illustrates the importance of open and constructive dialogue with all parties, ensuring you are dealing with facts and not rumours and above all putting the interests of residents front and centre."

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