CELEBRITY chef Raymond Blanc has responded to criticism of a planned £36 million expansion of his Oxfordshire restaurant.

An application has been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), with a new wellness spa, bistro, garden villas and garden rooms proposed.

Concerns over the impact on traffic and the local ecology have however been expressed by locals via SODC’s online planning portal.

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Mr Blanc, famous for his cookery books and appearances on MasterChef, said the plans are ‘essential’ for safeguarding the future of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton.

He said: “The proposed development will resolve the current operational constraints and enable us to offer a much greater, multifaceted offering.

“It is essential that we reinvent Le Manoir and prepare it for the future.”

Oxford Mail: Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir. Picture: Tim HughesRaymond Blanc at Le Manoir. Picture: Tim Hughes

The application is due before SODC’s planning committee on June 29.

In a statement, the restaurant says more than £36 million will be invested into the project.

The statement adds: “Le Manoir welcomes the committee report and hopes that members agree with the analysis, and grant planning permission to enable this important investment at Le Manoir to be unlocked.

“The recommendation follows a lengthy period of discussions with SODC and other stakeholders, including English Heritage.

“The application seeks to allow the long-term viability and success of Le Manoir, to ensure its sustainable future within the community and the existing villages.

“Le Manoir will continue to work with and support the local community.”

Oxford Mail: File photo of Le Manoir. Picture: Marc WestFile photo of Le Manoir. Picture: Marc West

The restaurant adds that if the proposals are to get the green light, 170 direct full-time jobs will be created, plus a further 190 indirect/induced jobs per annum during the build.

A further 83 full-time jobs will be created at Le Manoir itself.

Commenting via the SODC planning portal, Catherine Harrod said: “I fully support the Le Manoir planning application, and commend them for their transparency and for their response to the community’s concerns.

“I believe that Le Manoir is a very important asset to the village of Great Milton and in the 19 years I have lived here, they have always considered and included the community and have provided a boost to the local economy.

“The retention of their reputation and continued success cannot be ignored in maintaining the standing of the village, both locally and globally.”

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However, Sue Johns commented: “My primary concern remains the traffic through the village both in terms of congestion, which is already terrible at certain times, but also safety of pedestrians given parts of the village have no pavements.

“Whilst I welcome the temporary bus service, this may not coincide with the completion of this expansion (if not continued), and there is no guarantee of uptake from staff. Let alone the traffic caused by the construction itself.”

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice