Locals accuse Jeremy Clarkson of trying to 'urbanise the countryside'

EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Clarkson is accused of trying to ‘urbanise the countryside’ in bitter row with locals living near his Diddly Squat farm over plans to extend car park

  • Clarkson’s Diddly Squat farm in the Cotswolds has been criticised by residents
  • The shop became popular after the Amazon Prime Video series Clarkson’s Farm 
  • Locals are angry about plans to extend the car park to the shop for 60 vehicles 
  • Some are supportive, saying the plans will stop people parking on nearby roads 
  • But the majority have accused him of trying to create a ‘major tourist attraction’  

Jeremy Clarkson is locked in a bitter row with residents living near his Diddly Squat farm who are accusing him of trying to ‘urbanise the countryside’ with his latest plans to extend the car park at his shop.

The mega-mouth TV star wants to build a 60-space car park with a separate entrance and exit to try and cater for the huge number of visitors to his Cotswolds farm.

Some locals have praised the plans as a welcome measure to stop visitors parking on nearby roads and have accused opponents of being motivated by ‘jealousy’.

But others have slammed the former Top Gear presenter for trying to create ‘a major tourist attraction’ in a peaceful rural area, calling his shop an ‘eyesore’.

His application was submitted after previous plans to convert his lambing shed into a 60-seat restaurant and to enlarge the car park were turned down by councillors in January. 

Jeremy Clarkson is locked in a battle with neighbours over his plans to extend the car park at his farm shop in the Cotswolds

The former Top Gear presenter wants to create a 60-space car park at his Diddly Squat farm in the village of Chadlington

Clarkson, 62, is now hoping to get approval for a new application to just create a larger car park for his existing farm shop, with improved landscaping to make it more acceptable. 

West Oxfordshire District Council still has to rule on the application which will increase the number of car parking spaces on the farm site by six fold. 

Clarkson has been at the centre of controversy since he started running his arm himself in 2019 after the retirement of the farmer who grew crops on his 1,000 acres of land. 

Millions of viewers have so far watched his Amazon Prime Video series Clarkson’s Farm which details his hilarious attempts to reinvent himself as a farmer. 

Clarkson was given planning consent in November 2019 for a lambing shed and a farm shop with ten car parking spaces at his farm in Chadlington which is in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

But police had to deal with traffic chaos after the show began screening last June, leading to motorists clogging up country lanes as they tried to visit. 

On one day fields on the farm which were set aside for temporary car parking were being used by an estimated 400 vehicles. 

Under the plans a new entrance and exit system would be put in place, while hedgerows would be planted and the number of parking spaces increased

A 10-space car park was approved for the shop last year, but it quickly overflowed after the farm’s popularity boomed following the release of the Amazon Prime Video series Clarkson’s Farm

Clarkson is attempting to reduce congestion and stop visitors parking on the road by creating the new parking area

The presenter’s new plans involve trying to reduce congestion and visitors parking on the road by creating a new parking area marked out by straw bales where around 60 cars can park with an additional four disabled spaces and cycle parking. 

The plans include a tarmac surfaced entrance and separate exit, a fenced paddock screened from the road by a new hedgerow and wildflower margins to ‘create a soft buffer between crops and the farm shop’. 

It also proposes the building of 1.8m tall willow hurdles and hedgerows of native species such as Acer Campestre, Malus Sylvestris and Quercus Robur to screen off the car park. 

But planning documents reveal that many local residents fear that the site is being over developed. 

Nigel Winser, from Chadlington, wrote in his letter of objection: ‘If the Farm Shop was loyal to selling local farm produce, the small car park is appropriate. 

‘Alas the shop is already selling souvenirs, that attract large number of buyers from all corners of the UK. 

‘This trend will continue to grow year on year, with increasing number of national and international buyers. Good for tourism, but not for sustainable farming in a beautiful area of national importance, for nature. 

‘Permission for this car park, will be the thin end of wedge, known as “planning creep”. 

‘Visitor numbers will grow, a large restaurant will be established, high lighting will have to be added and before long, this will become a major UK visitor attraction, bringing increased road safety and environmental risks to the whole valley.’ 

Chadlington resident Michael Cooper, claimed in his comments that the plans showed ‘no respect or consideration’ for neighbours or the fact that the site was in an area of outstanding beauty. 

He added: ‘The planned entrance and exit will not necessarily improve road safety and traffic flow. With an extra ‘pinch point’ and being so close together there is the potential for additional issues and accidents.’ 

Angry locals say the plans would ‘urbanise this area of the countryside’ and have raised concerns about its impact on the area

Maggie Jackman, of Chipping Norton, said she believed the car park would ‘urbanise this area of the countryside’. 

She wrote: ‘Whilst I would welcome a solution to the dangerous parking along the Chipping Norton Road out of Chadlington, I am very worried about the impact on an area of natural beauty and light pollution.’ 

Susan Bishop, also of Chipping Norton, described the shop as an ‘eyesore’ since it opened in 2020, saying: ‘The mess continues to get worse as construction vehicles are constantly in operation. 

‘The only respite we had during the first couple of months of this year, when the shop was closed, was that there was less traffic through our narrow roads. 

‘Mud on the roads, however, continued to be hazardous as a direct result of the building machines. 

‘As soon as the farm shop reopened, expected chaos ensued, with large volumes of cars and traffic travelling through our village and up the Chipping Norton Road. 

‘One would have anticipated building to cease then, but it hasn’t and visitors have even less area in which to queue.’ 

One local said even when completed the bigger car park would not be enough to stop people visiting the farm, pictured, from parking on the road

Mrs Bishop predicted that the new series of Clarkson’s Farm would lead to ‘a surge of newcomers’ adding pressure to the local ‘rapidly deteriorating’ road surfaces and creating additional safety hazards. 

Karl Hames, of Chadlington, agreed, saying: ‘Any car park providing adequate spaces for the level of traffic we have seen at Diddly Squat would undoubtedly be a huge eyesore.’ 

Another resident George Bailey complained that the bigger car park would not be enough to stop visitors parking on the road on busy days. 

But he said that people may have ‘reluctantly concluded that the best option is to support this application given everyone’s concerns for averting a bad accident.’ 

Mrs R M Godfrey wrote: ‘I am all in favour of farmers diversifying and of having farm shops, but what needs to be recognised is that this site is not an ordinary farm shop with the amount of traffic an ordinary farm shop would attract. 

‘This is also a tourist attraction with fans of the TV series travelling great distances across the country, and it is attracting far more traffic and visitors than an ordinary farm shop would do, to the detriment of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

‘As the new opening season has begun the residents of Chadlington have once more faced the eyesore and inconvenience of streams of cars parked on the verge of the road outside the shop, a verge which is a muddy mess when the weather is wet, often causing the cars not to pull over onto it, but instead to park in the road. 

The TV presenter, pictured here at a town hall meeting called to discuss the farm shop last September, has already been given the green light to film season 2 of Clarkson’s farm

‘This then brings traffic jams as traffic attempts to flow in both directions on one lane, often with no gaps in the parked traffic. 

‘As well as being a traffic issue there is an issue of the safety of pedestrians walking to and from their cars. The problems have already started and we are a long way from the peak summer season. 

‘It may be argued that to provide a bigger car park on site would solve the problem, but with several hundred cars having been observed on many occasions before, a car park with a capacity of 70 cars would not suffice, even taking into account the use of the field behind the shop which is only allowed for 28 days a year.’ 

Thames Valley Police crime prevention design advisor Kevin Cox did not object to the plans, but said he had concerns that the car park might be ‘vulnerable to crime and antisocial behaviour’ due to its ‘isolated rural location’. 

Planning consultancy John Phillips which provided a statement for Clarkson’s application said his proposal was to create ‘a sustainable level of parking’ and to ‘prevent any queuing traffic on the highway waiting to enter the site’.

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