Harry Potter actor, Rupert Grint, has been accused of using a ‘cynical device’ with an offer of free land to build a controversial new village at his Hertfordshire estate. The star, best known for his role as Ron Weasley in JK Rowling’s series, has put forward plans to build nine houses on his £5.4million Kimpton Grange Estate.bDespite being praised for the sustainability of his so-called ‘eco village’ and receiving a welcome from a local primary school, some locals have accused Mr Grint of trying to win them over with freebies.
Villagers have allegedly been offered a ‘gift’ of land if their properties back on to the estate. One objector, named John Pepper, wrote on the North Hertfordshire Council planning application portal: ‘The proposed gifting of land to certain neighbours and the Parish Council is surely a cynical device to encourage planning consent.’ Dalia Wyatt is a neighbour who could be ‘gifted a small garden’ if the plans were to progress. But she shared her strong objections to the proposals, with the fate of 32 trees in question if the plans go ahead. She wrote: ‘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. ‘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 34-year-old’s existing manor house.Mr Grint bought the estate at Kimpton Grange near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in 2009 for £5.4million but he is not thought to have ever lived there as it needed renovating. He tried to sell the 13,000sq ft property for £6million in 2018, but he is still the registered owner on land registry documents. The proposed houses would be equipped with heat pumps to make use of natural energy, while solar panels will generate electricity. It is said that rainwater would also be harvested and stored in tanks beneath the properties. Earlier this year, Clear Architects, presenting the plans to North Hertfordshire Council on behalf of Mr Grint, said: ‘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.’ But The Telegraph reported that the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust also object to the plans. Matt Dodds, the Trust’s planning & biodiversity manager, told them: ‘The application needs to supply the full biodiversity, not a metric. ‘This must evidence all the habitat and condition assessments for it to be acceptable. It should not be decided without this information.’ A representative of Rupert Grint has been approached for comment.