Rupert Grint tries to win locals over with freebies for his 'eco-village' that could wipe out 32 trees
HITCHIN, HERTFORDSHIRE: Harry Potter star Rupert Grint has been accused of using a cynical ploy to win over people around his Hertfordshire estate. The star, best known for his role as Ron Weasley, is reportedly offering free land to build his new, controversial village. He has even submitted plans to build nine homes on his $6.5 million Kimpton Grange estate. Some local residents have accused the 34-year-old of trying to win them over with freebies, although his project has been welcomed by a local elementary school and praised for the sustainability of his so-called 'eco-village.'
Villagers were allegedly offered a 'gift' of land if they support the construction of the estate. John Pepper, one of the objectors, wrote on North Hertfordshire Council's planning application portal, according to the Daily Mail. "The proposed gifting of land to certain neighbors and the Parish Council is surely a cynical device to encourage planning consent." If the plans are successful, a neighbor of the property named Dalia Wyatt could be "gifted a small garden."
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However, Wyatt strongly rejected the proposal, due to the fate of 32 trees in question if the plans go ahead. "The removal of the trees where the affordable housing would go, would open up the vista and irrevocably change this historic area. I was horrified by the plans showing the new view", she wrote. "I have severe misgivings about the promise of land being given to the Local Authority for a Nature reserve. There is no guarantee that this will be fulfilled after planning is granted. Also if the land was gifted, I have real concerns whether at some future time, some of this land would be utilised for housing or sold on."
Six apartments, five of which will be two-bed with a larger three-bed, could also be converted from the English actor's existing manor house. In 2009, Grint bought the estate at Kimpton Grange near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, for $6.5 million. It is said he had never liked there as it needed renovating. He is still the registered owner on land registry documents although he tried to sell the 13,000sq ft property for $6.3 million in 2018.
The proposed houses would be equipped with solar panels to generate electricity and heat pumps to make use of natural energy. It is also considered that rainwater would also be harvested and stored in tanks beneath the properties. While presenting the plans to North Hertfordshire Council on behalf of Grint, Clear Architects said earlier this year, "The proposal echoes the Government’s aim for the highest quality in architecture. Given the UK is in a climate change emergency, having a highly designed test case within the District would enable the council to showcase how sustainability can be designed into a project at an early stage prior to gaining planning permission for the greater good of the environment."
According to The Telegraph, Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust also object to the plans. "The application needs to supply the full biodiversity, not a metric", said Matt Dodds, the Trust’s planning & biodiversity manager. "This must evidence all the habitat and condition assessments for it to be acceptable. It should not be decided without this information."