Search icon


25th Dec 2022

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint accused of trying to bribe Hertfordshire locals


‘It is an unsustainable development that will lead to further infilling in the greenbelt’

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint has been accused of giving a “cynical sweetener” to Hertfordshire locals with an offer of free land to build a controversial ‘eco-village’ on his country estate.

The multi-millionaire wants to turn the estate into a mini village by building five detached houses, and four terraced affordable homes. He would then also convert an existing mansion into six luxury apartments.

But several locals have hit out against the plans to build on the protected greenbelt land and conservation area. And one protester has now described the offer of a public woodland walk and picnic area as a “cynical sweetener”.

This would be part of the actor’s plan to build an ‘eco-hogsmeade’ with nine new houses.

Davina Malcolm, 75, has lived in her 18th-century cottage in Kimpton Bottom next to Kimpton Grange estate in Hertfordshire for over 30 years.

The retired teacher said: “It is an unsustainable development that will lead to further infilling in the greenbelt and conservation area.

“A set of neighbours to the property have no back gardens.

“They’ve been offered some land each to extend their gardens which would be lovely and up their property values.”

The application has so far built up 13 written objections on the North Hertfordshire Council planning application portal for the Kimpton Grange property.

Davina, an environmentalist whose house backs onto the estate, has suggested the offer of public land is a “freebee” which distracts from the destruction the works would bring to the habitats being built over.

According to the application, which was submitted this October, the “private amenity space” offered to the cottages in Kimpton Bottom will “enhance the living standards of these property occupiers”.

Dalia Wyatt, a neighbour who would be gifted a “small garden” for her property is “horrified” by the plans, which would leave her garden backing onto a car park.

She said: “I strongly object. 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. It would also destroy the Rookery.

“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.”

Davina added: “In order to do the building work they want to take down the big trees, which is why the neighbours are being given the land, so they don’t complain.

“We ought to be preserving our trees not cutting them down. Wherever you build houses there will be more traffic, but it’s about spoiling the countryside. “Even if we can’t enjoy the woodland in the estate right now, it’s doing a good job.

“The trees support a whole lot of other animals as well as cleaning the air.”

At least 32 trees may need to be felled in order for the plans to take place. Many locals say huge amounts of wildlife are supported by the estate’s woodland including an old rookery supporting a colony of birds, red kites, muntjac deer, rabbits, badgers, foxes and frogs.

The application states the work would lead to a Biodiversity Net Gain of 51.35 per cent, however members of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust have also objected.

Planning and diversity officer for the Trust Matt Dodds said: “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.”

The application includes an impact survey on the many bats which use the site, with a mitigation plan to protect them from the works if the plans were to go ahead.

A separate survey found no Greater Crested Newt species on the site, but it stated the development would benefit newts if they chose to come into the area in future.

Grint, 34 played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series.

Since then he has accrued a substantial property portfolio and is offering to open the estate with a “gifted” community park, circular walk and forest school resources.

He bought the estate in 2009 which came with an 18th-century mansion, two swimming pools and a private cinema.

He failed to sell the property in 2018 and has since created plans for the ‘eco-village’ which would include new public access on a narrow road.

Villagers say there will be traffic chaos on the winding one-track road around the Grange in rural Hertfordshire.

The application will be voted on by council planning committee next year.

Related links: