Jeremy Clarkson has referred to the “not particularly bright people” in the planning departments in a discussion of improvements to his Oxfordshire farm.
The 62-year-old broadcaster said he “just couldn’t get planning permission” and said local planners were being influenced by “people in the village wearing red pants”.
Clarkson said “no” is the council’s answer to “everything” when it comes to his property, called Diddly Squat Farm.
In an interview with TalkTV’s The News Desk, Clarkson said, “Maybe I should buy an apron and join the Freemasons.
“I don’t know what you have to do but I just can’t get planning permission for anything which is annoying but as it turns out it’s not just me.
“I thought so, but farmers across the country are saying the same thing.”
The farm, the subject of an Amazon Studios series called Clarkson’s Farm, has proved popular with viewers since the show aired last June.
Clarkson bought the farm in 2008 and it was run by a villager, but when he retired in 2019 the TV host decided to see if he could run it himself.
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The success of the series has seen people flock to the farm shop to buy items like cow juice, canola oil, chutneys and jams.
Neighbors were reportedly upset by the crowds of shoppers who queued for hours to purchase goods.
Speaking about the planning, Clarkson told the programme: “Unknowingly West Oxfordshire County Council is writing a fantastic script and every farmer in the country will be saying, ‘This is exactly what’s happening’.
“You know, those, how should I put it, not very smart people in the planning departments just don’t understand what they’re playing around with.
“And I see the results. I was told to replace the traditional green tin roof on my shop with much more expensive slate.
“I’ve been told I can’t sell milk coming five miles away from a woman who is desperate for her future as a dairy farmer because of TB and all.
“I wasn’t allowed to build a dirt road, I wasn’t allowed to build a parking lot, although locals say there are too many people parking on the street.
“It just goes on and on and on and the Council’s answer to everything is ‘no’.”
When asked what he would like the government to do to help farmers, Clarkson said: “Well, yes, I think there is a role for government.
“I think right now, as I understand it – and I’m a prospective farmer, lest we be mistaken – farmers are allowed to switch buildings that are smaller than 150 square meters, which is very, very small.”
He said he thinks it should be a little bigger, adding: “I think obviously farmers shouldn’t be allowed to build solar farms or housing developments without proper local advice.
“But I just think the government should allow farmers to convert buildings of, say, 500 square meters without necessarily having to go to local planners, who are inevitably influenced by people in the village wearing red pants and looking ridiculous do and disagree.
“That’s what I’d like to see, it’s just a little bit more.
“If they want to say to farmers, ‘You have to diversify,’ they have to say to local authorities, ‘And you have to let them’.”
In March, Clarkson reapplied for planning permission to expand his farm’s parking lot.
The proposal was for an “extension of the existing car park to formalize temporary parking and provide new access arrangements” at Diddly Squat Farm Shop.
The proposal also included a “new storage complex and associated landscaping.”
It was rejected by West Oxfordshire District Council this month, who justified its rejection in its decision by saying that the proposed development, because of its location, size and design, would be “unsustainable and would not be compatible or inconsistent in scale with existing farming operations or its location in open countryside and would have a visually intrusive and detrimental effect on the rural character, scenic beauty and tranquility of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.
The News Desk is available Monday through Friday at 7:00 p.m. on TalkTV.