As all Clarkson’s Farm viewers will know, Jeremy Clarkson’s transition from tyres to tractors has been far from smooth. It all began when the famed broadcaster decided to turn his hand to a career in agriculture, buying a 1,000-acre farm in the Cotswolds, which he called Diddly Squat Farm, and filming his pursuits for a Prime Video documentary. He has come up against difficult weather, unresponsive crops and, of course, the pandemic – but Clarkson’s most recent battle has been with the council over his quest to open a restaurant on the farm. And now, after much back and forth, the council have decided the restaurant will not be permitted – though they are allowing some changes to the use of land.
When Did Jeremy Clarkson Open A Restaurant?
Clarkson tells us he was inspired to set up a restaurant after reading Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, a book by ecological farmer Joel Salatin which explores food systems and broader philosophical issues surrounding food choice. He was initially denied planning permission by the council, who argued that it would spoil the protected rural landscape. Yet Clarkson persevered, and eventually discovered a loophole.
In July 2022, the restaurant opened. It was housed in an abandoned lambing barn on the farm, which Jeremy and the team transformed into a restaurant in just a few days. A selection of al fresco tables were scattered beside the barn, alongside a couple of sheltered tables and a small shepherd’s hut serving as the VIP room, decorated with pretty, rustic-chic tableware.
To get there, you had to catch a lift in the famous Lamborghini tractor with farm manager Kaleb Cooper – the breakout star of Clarkson’s Farm. There were a couple of things to know before hopping aboard. Firstly, the bathrooms were portable loos 250m away from the restaurant. And secondly, they couldn’t get an alcohol license for the restaurant, so it was BYOB – though you could pick up drinks from the farm shop, which sells Hawkstone lager and cider, plus some very good English sparkling wine.
Food came courtesy of Pip Lacey, Great British Menu winner and executive chef at King’s Cross restaurant hicce. It wasn’t one for the veggies: beef was the prime focus – and, indeed, there was a neon sign saying: ‘Yes, we have no vegetarian food’.
There was no menu as such, but guests enjoyed sharing starters alongside a roast-style main, plus dessert. The concept was nose-to-tail, seasonal dining, made predominantly using produce from the farm. Dishes included beef croquettes with pickled chilli, grilled courgettes with bone marrow, small beef pasties with raspberry and steak tartare, followed by two pasta sharers: beef ragu and agnolotti. Next up was beef sausages, roast potatoes and heritage tomatoes, topped off with a dessert of strawberries and cream with ‘Bee Juice’ (honey, which you can buy in the shop).
When Did Jeremy Clarkson’s Restaurant Close?
People flocked to the restaurant from far and wide – but this led to complaints from locals, who claimed the venture was leading to heavy traffic and disrupting the peaceful area.
After just a couple of months, in August 2022, the West Oxfordshire District Council issued an enforcement notice ordering the restaurant to close. ‘The unlawful use of Diddly Squat Farm by reason of its nature, scale and siting is unsustainable and incompatible with its open countryside location,’ it said.
Clarkson lodged an appeal against the council’s decision, and a hearing was held in March, though a verdict is yet to be reached. Commenting on this, the council said: ‘We understand that the planning process shown in season two of Clarkson’s Farm can seem obstructive and that people will be confused by the planning decisions at Diddly Squat Farm.
‘As with any other planning authority, we have a legal responsibility to make sure that planning laws and policies are followed correctly by everyone to manage development and protect local communities and the environment.’
The council has now given its verdict on Clarkson’s appeal, deciding not to allow the addition of a restaurant at the farm. However, they have granted permission for an extension of the car park, and for changes to the use of land.
The report, written by Inspector RJ Perrins, outlined how the council objected to Clarkson changing the land to ‘a mixed agricultural and leisure attraction use, comprising cafe, restaurant, gift/farm shop, parking and lavatory facilities’.
However, Perrins also disagreed with the council’s comparison of the farm to a leisure attraction as ‘it does not ask for an entrance fee’ and was ‘not comparable to say a Wildlife Park or miniature railway’. The report also describes the farm as ‘a victim of its own success’. Clarkson has now opened the car park, which can be used by guests visiting the farm shop.
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Clarkson’s Farm Season 3: What Do We Know So Far?
It has been confirmed that season three of Clarkson’s Farm is on its way. While we haven’t yet had a release date, Clarkson tweeted back in February saying: ‘We actually won’t finish filming it till October. There’s something we are trying which won’t be resolved till then. So it’s a while off yet.’ It’s thought the series will premiere at some point in 2024.
Details of what to expect are also minimal at the moment, but Prime Video has said the series will ‘follow Clarkson as he taps into 513 acres of land on Diddly Squat, including woodlands and lakes, which have yet to be touched.’
Cooper has also shared his excitement at the new series. ‘I’m over the moon to be taking part again,’ he said. ‘Well, they do say third time’s a charm! Maybe this will be the series that Jeremy finally starts taking advice from a real farmer!’
Clarkson also gave some insight into life at the farm during an appearance at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this summer. When asked by former racing driver David Coulthard how he had the time to attend the event while prepping for the new season, Clarkson replied: ‘There’s not much to do on the farm at the moment, weirdly. My mushrooms aren’t growing, pigs are all pregnant, everything’s sort of hunky dory really so I can come to the Grand Prix. I’ll be home 10 minutes after it finishes though.’
You can catch Clarkson’s Farm on Prime Video.