Jeremy Clarkson's ongoing struggle to expand his Diddly Squat Farm Shop has taken a new turn, as he was informed that he need not plant as many trees as initially planned. The presenter has been embroiled in a long-standing dispute with West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxford County Council over his aspiration to construct a substantial car park and restaurant on his farmland.

The root of the issue surrounding Clarkson's plans lies in the fact that his original car park application was rejected on the grounds that it would compromise the "natural beauty" of the area. Diddly Squat Farm, situated in the village of Chadlington.

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The Scottish Farmer: The Diddly Squat Farm Shop opened in 2020

The most recent refusal from the council now centres on Clarkson's ambitious plans to protect the view by planting large trees to create a tall hedgerow, a measure which is deemed overly ambitious. According to a landscape and forestry officer, a three-metre-high hedgerow and a few crab apple and field maple saplings would suffice.

The situation escalated to the point where law enforcement had to intervene to address the traffic problems, and Clarkson issued a public apology to residents. Matters worsened when "Clarkson's Farm" began airing on TV, intensifying the parking issues.

When the shop reopened in 2023, the council issued a pre-emptive warning about traffic and parking in anticipation of the chaos Clarkson's customers might cause.

The Scottish Farmer:

Capitalising on the success of his shop, Clarkson was keen to establish a restaurant on the site to offer his numerous customers a broader range of options. His proposed steak restaurant encountered repeated setbacks after being denied planning permission to convert his lambing shed into a 60-seat restaurant.

Undeterred, Clarkson sought a workaround to serve food in his shepherd's hut, offering a rustic dining experience with roast beef, sparkling wine, and strawberries in a makeshift setting. However, his triumph over the local council planning department was short-lived, and the eatery was subsequently closed for violating planning regulations. Although Clarkson appealed the decision, the Diddly Squat restaurant remains shuttered.

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With Diddly Squat Farm Shop being held responsible for traffic congestion and crowds of fans encroaching on footpaths, Clarkson found himself at odds with the residents of Chadlington Village. Given that planning applications are open to public scrutiny, residents could submit objections before the council reaches a decision, making it crucial for Clarkson to gain their support.

To garner support from the local community, the journalist and TV presenter organised a public gathering in the village hall of his hometown. During this event, he provided attendees with cheese and wine, creating an informal setting in which he could engage with them and respond to their inquiries regarding his farm expansion proposals During the meeting, he expressed his empathy, acknowledging the unforeseen impact of the show's popularity on the village and emphasising his commitment to finding a way to balance the farm's growth and employment opportunities for fifteen individuals while preserving the village's tranquillity.

The Scottish Farmer:

Throughout this protracted planning process, Clarkson has alleged that the council harbours a "personal vendetta" against him. In response, the local council has issued a statement refuting these claims, insisting that they treat Clarkson like any other applicant, as their legal obligation dictates.

Following the airing of an episode on Amazon Prime showcasing Clarkson's planning battles, the Oxford County planning department underscored their impartial stance, stating, "We understand that the planning process shown in season two of Clarkson’s Farm can seem obstructive and that people may be puzzled by the planning decisions at Diddly Squat Farm. As with any other planning authority, we have a legal responsibility to ensure that planning laws and policies are followed correctly by everyone, regardless of their identity, and we treat Diddly Squat Farm no differently."