Jeremy Clarkson has been ordered to shut down his restaurant and cafe less than three months after saying he had found a planning loophole that would allow them to open.
The broadcaster is appealing against the enforcement notice served on his Oxfordshire farm, Diddly Squat, where he has been involved in a long-running planning dispute with the council.
Officials have accused him of operating unlawfully and said the setup at Diddly Squat, near the village of Chadlington, “by reason of its nature, scale and siting is unsustainable and incompatible with its open countryside location”.
Clarkson has been called “Britain’s most unlikely farmer” because of a career spent dismissing issues such as the climate crisis that pose an existential threat to the UK’s agricultural sector. But his Amazon Prime series, Clarkson’s Farm, is based on the premise that, after all that, he had decided to take on the running of the Cotswolds farm he has owned for the past 14 years.
His plans for the site put him in direct conflict with West Oxfordshire district council, which has rejected two planning applications.
In July, Clarkson told the Sun: “We had planning permission turned down but we’re opening anyway. Everyone at Diddly Squat has spent the last three months becoming an expert in planning regulations and we’ve found a delightful little loophole.”
But the council acted the following month, saying the parking, toilets, traffic, along with the dining, installed by Clarkson at the farm were “visually intrusive and harmful” to the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty.
It ordered him to shut the restaurant or anything selling food to be consumed on the farm, as well as requiring the removal of the dining tables, chairs, parasols, picnic tables and a mobile toilet.
Agents working on behalf of Clarkson say planning laws have not been breached and claim the council’s decision is “excessive”.
The John Phillips Planning Consultancy write in their 9 September 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 lawful and says it would take longer than the six weeks that the council has given them to remove the items.
The Planning Inspectorate, a government agency, will hear Clarkson’s appeal but has yet to set a date for a hearing.
Representatives for Clarkson have been contacted for comment.