PLANS for a £36 million expansion of celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s Oxfordshire restaurant have been given the green light.

The proposals at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton include a new wellness spa, bistro and garden villas – but were only narrowly supported by councillors.

The motion was passed by South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee, with five votes in favour, four against and one abstention.

READ AGAIN: Raymond Blanc responds to criticism of proposed £36m restaurant expansion

Addressing councillors at the meeting, Mr Blanc said the expansion plans will allow Le Manoir to offer ‘unique and world-class experiences’ to customers.

He said: “It is now 38 years that I’ve been the chef patron at Le Manoir. It is important we are an employer and an integral part of the community.

“Le Manoir has long been a pioneer of sustainability within the hospitality industry and that won’t stop.

“It is essential that we reinvent Le Manoir and prepare it for tomorrow.

“The proposed development will enable us to offer unique and world-class experiences for our guests, depending less on my name.

“It will also secure our current employees’ jobs and will generate more employment.”

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

Concerns from locals during the planning process centred on the impact on traffic and the environment, something a council report noted.

The document states: “The development is within the green belt and the site contains listed buildings and structures including the 15th century manor house.

“The development represents inappropriate development within the green belt and needs to demonstrate very special circumstances to outweigh the harm to the green belt.”

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

The report adds: “The overall objective of the development is to provide an upgraded and larger hotel that will be more competitive with comparable standards of luxury/ top quality hotel establishments.

“Key to this is the provision of a spa, an additional dining offer, increased accommodation and the renovations.

“The proposals take the form of extensions to the manor house and stables, also requiring listed building consent, and a large number of new buildings situated within the wider gardens.

“A new access from the A329 would be formed accessing two new large parking areas.”

Lorraine Hillier, a district councillor for the Woodcote and Rotherfield ward, said at the meeting: “I was impressed at how most of the concerns raised have been addressed by the applicant.

“I think this is a case where the benefits to the public do outweigh and I do appreciate the strong feelings about the green belt.”

In total, there will be 31 new buildings, including 12 associated with the spa and seven including the bistro and new hotel suites.

Read more from this author

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:

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice