Jeremy Clarksons bitter feud with Chipping Norton residents over Diddly Squat

Jeremy Clarkson may have won himself a legion of fans of country living with his Clarkson's Farm series but not everyone is so keen.

The outspoken TV host has found himself the subject of heavy criticism from locals in Chipping Norton since he first arrived there back in 2016.

Jeremy, 61, has been at the forefront of many a showdown with locals over his beloved rural property over the years.

But now as he looks to the future he has questioned if he can continue running the property as he has realised he is "not so good" at farming and doesn't have the "mental capacity" for it.

Local fury

While Jeremy has owned the land since 2008, he didn't begin farming it himself until 2019 when the local villager named Howard who had previously run the land retired.

Jeremy then renamed the agricultural business Diddly Squat – poking fun at its distinct lack of productivity.

The former Top Gear host first sparked the wrath of the locals when his arrival in Chipping Norton attracted an array of tourists wanting to check out his business.

He opened the Diddly Squat Farm Shop in February 2020 and immediately caused friction with his neighbours due to the inordinate amount of traffic it brought to the countryside location.

However, he infuriated his neighbours even further when he made plans to film The Grand Tour in the Cotswold countryside.

Locals became increasingly concerned that the narrow country lanes surrounding the proposed filming location would end up being treated as a race track by car fanatics.

They are already exasperated by a recent increase in traffic caused by people visiting celebrity haunt The Soho Farmhouse in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

One resident protested: "Our village (Sandford St Martin) has already been deeply affected by a huge increase of traffic on account of Soho Farmhouse.

"The number of Range Rovers, Porsches and various other speeding vehicles blindly following their SatNavs has had a massively negative impact.

"The idea of a further (even temporary) increase of fast cars driven by petrolheads passing through on their way to/from a filming location is highly concerning."

Plans submitted to West Oxfordshire Council suggested that Chump Productions wanted to film for a duration of up to 13 weeks.

The production team alone would add an extra 30 cars and vans to the narrow country lanes, near Clarkson's farmhouse outside Chipping Norton.

Council concerns

The parish council in Chipping Norton raised their concerns when Jeremy proposed to make some alterations to his farm shop.

The application included plans to make external alterations to an existing building to provide a new rear access door, replace existing fabric roller shutters and gates with new solid roller shutter doors and alterations to timber cladding to close gaps.

However it was a further application that raised objections – the conversion of the lambing shed to form a café suitable for 150 people.

Parish council members objecting said the plans would “create further erosion of the tranquillity and would have a significant environmental impact within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)” with others adding it would “make the traffic situation worse”.

A previous application for a 50-cover restaurant, featuring a kitchen, “servery area and an internal seating area” was also rejected after 70 objections were lodged online.

A statement said: “Whilst the current planning application makes no reference to any of the above as being the reason for these alterations, the parish council is concerned that, in the event of this application being approved, this should not confirm a change of use status for this agricultural building.

“The parish council remains concerned regarding the effect of the incremental development at this location, both upon the local community, its existing shops and an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

“The number of cars currently visiting this site is already substantial, often filling the existing available parking space and overflowing onto the Chipping Norton Road, which is hardly desirable in an AONB and creates a significant risk that accidents will occur.”

Planning permission denials

It's not just his potential eaterie that has met a brick wall in the planning department – Jeremy also found himself facing a battle when he wanted to extend his car park.

His previous application was rejected by a West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) planning committee in January.

He has since applied to extend the existing parking area to “formalise temporary parking” on his property, and arrange new access points for fans of his farm shop.

The plans also included a storage compound and “associated landscaping”.

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