Thu, 15 Jun 2023
1. Two appeals have been made by Mr Clarkson in relation to the Diddly Squat Farm Shop which has gained much public interest. The Decision Letter has now been issued by
the Inspector – this Note is intended to bring clarity as to what the Decision means for Mr Clarkson and provides comments on some of the legal points raised during the
course of the Appeal.
2. Mr Clarkson opened a Farm Shop in an area of his Farm in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Farm Shop was in a disused Barn. The Farm Shop
grew immensely popular – and sufficient car parking was needed to accommodate the vast numbers of tourists who were visiting the Shop on a daily basis.
3. The Council had granted planning permission for a Farm Shop (with unrestricted opening times) and for which people come to visit the Site. The Appellant could not
stop the volume of customers arriving lawfully at the Site save for closing the enterprise altogether (DL85). The case was made that the Farm Shop sold goods which
were not lawfully permitted within the grant of the Planning Permission.
4. To partly accommodate these vast numbers of visitors, temporary parking use rights were exercised by Mr Clarkson under Class B to Part 4 of the Town and Country
Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (“the GPDO”).
5. During the TV Show, Mr Clarkson also sought to open a restaurant at the Lowland Barn, which is some way further along the farm track from the Farm Shop.
6. The Farm Shop, the car parking and the Restaurant at Diddly Squat Farm were subject to Enforcement Notices issued by the Council. Two Appeals against the Notices were
a. The first appeal was under s.174 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”). This relates to the Farm Shop - a venture set up to sell goods
to members of the public from the farm (and 16 miles beyond) and for the selling of food and drinks around the ‘Lambing Barn’ (“the Farm Shop” appeal).
It also related to the land identified in blue on the Enforcement Notice which relates to the Lowland Barn as a restaurant.
b. The second appeal related to the extension of the existing parking area to formalise the temporary parking and the provision of new access
arrangements, the formation of a storage compound and the associated landscaping (“the Car Park” appeal).
The Farm Shop Appeal
7. Enforcement Notice 1, contained a number of requirements, including:
(i) to cease the use of the part of the Land for the sale or provision of food or drinks to members of the public as well as the use of the land for a restaurant
or café, and parking by members of the public.
(ii) the cessation of the retail sale or provision of any goods directly to members of the public from land other than within the agricultural holding, or within a
16-mile radius or any other goods to which the Council has consented in writing.
(iii) It also required the reinstatement of land around the agricultural land surrounding it and, in essence, the removal from the farm of vehicles to
prepare or provide food or drinks to members of the public for consumption on or off the land; toilets, and chairs, tables picnic benches etc relating to what
is known in the TV Series as ‘the lambing shed’ which had been used for the sale of food and drinks.
8. The continued operation of the farm shop was never in issue – it has planning permission. The issues arose from what was said by the Council to be wider uses and
9. The upshot of the appeals is that the current uses will be permitted (save for the Restaurant), but for a limited period – 3 years from the date of the Decision Letter
(“DL”). It means that food and drink, including hot cooked food, can continue to be provided, along with toilets in place and improved parking. This will be subject to a
submitted scheme for the continued use of the mobile or other food vending units, the number of picnic tables etc.
10. Whilst the development is counter to national planning policy (the NPPF) and those local planning policies that seek to protect the visual aspects of the countryside of the
AONB, the Inspector considered that the development would provide a number of positive benefits which attract great weight (DL121). Those material considerations included the benefits to the local economy, employment and farm diversification. Those outweigh conflict with the development plan.
11. The Café shall be confined to the lambing shed and the strip of the land directly outside to the South and edged in green. That allows the Café (as it currently operates)
to continue to operate. The Restaurant in the Lowland Barn (further away) is not permitted. That is because it does not benefit from GPDO rights.
12. On the issue of the ‘Planning Unit’, interestingly, the Inspector says that the Lowland Barn does not form a separate planning unit as it is functionally and physically related to the other uses. However, the Inspector found that it is part of a mixed-use and the GPDO is clear that permitted development rights cannot apply to mixed uses. The appeal for the Lowland Barn as part of a mixed-use (and therefore a restaurant) fails, and so that cannot be permitted, unless permitted locally, or as part of a further planning appeal.
13. There was found to be a need for car parking (DL109). This was also reflected in the need to extend the existing car parking and formalise the temporary parking and provision of new access arrangements, the formation of new storage compound and associated landscaping.
14. The Inspector took the view that the issue regarding the filming did not need to be determined.
What does this mean for Mr Clarkson?
15. It means that Mr Clarkson will be able to continue to operate much as at present for a period of some three years. The goods retailed within the farm Shop shall be limited to goods produced, grown or reared on Diddly Squat farm (or within a 16-mile radius) and other products that may be first agreed with the Council. The café will be confined to the Lambing Shed and the strip of land directly outside (which is how the Site currently operates). The Restaurant in the Lowland Barn will not be able to operate without further permission. The parking areas should be retained.
16. Whilst this decision does mean that Mr Clarkson cannot (yet) operate the restaurant within the Lowland Farm, Diddly Squat Farm Shop and the associated café can continue for at least some three years.
Read the full appeal decision here.
Richard Kimblin KC acted for Mr Clarkson instructed by Neil Warner of JPPC.