In secluded Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, a rebellion is brewing. Pinewood Studio, host for 75 years to films as diverse as Oliver Twist and the James Bond franchise, wants to expand. But local residents disagree, and one is using a 19th-century law to fight back.
The famous studio wants to spend Â£200 million building 1,400 houses on green-belt land that it owns, hoping to construct a permanent set in the style of the worldâ€™s greatest cities.
The houses would be available to buy, offering anyone the chance to live in a New York brownstone, a classic San Francisco row house or a Venetian palazzo (canal included). Pinewood homeowners would have to enter their homes through the back door while the fronts were used in film-making.
Although the plan would bring in jobs and double the available production space at Britainâ€™s largest film and TV studio, opposition has been intense. Protesters are appalled by the idea of bolting pastiche faÃ§ades on to houses and fear that it would threaten the integrity of the green belt.
Pinewood property boosts studio
After 200 people gathered outside South Bucks District Council last month, councillors threw out the studioâ€™s 4,000-page planning application in a unanimous vote.
The studio, which is part-owned by Michael Grade, the departing ITV chairman, has indicated that it will appeal against the decision and is confident that construction of one of the most ambitious ventures in screen history will begin in 2012.
â€œObjections to an initial refusal of the planning application were anticipated,â€ Pinewood said.
However, residents are not resting on their laurels. One, a Mrs Parsons, has applied to register land at Pinewood Fields and The Clumps â€” owned by the studios â€” as a village green. The tactic is based on a law conceived in the 19th century. If successful, the application would stop Pinewoodâ€™s plans in their tracks.
The company was notified yesterday of the application and said that it would fight it.
Plans for an Â£80 million regeneration scheme in Croydon, South London, were jeopardised in January after a lawyer applied for village green status for the area affected, suggesting that the tactic is being used to block unwanted development work.
No details about Mrs Parsons were available. Buckinghamshire County Council, which received her application, said that it was accompanied by more than 40 â€œevidence formsâ€ from supporters, who claim to have used the Pinewood land as a village green
It certainly gives a new meaning to the concept of shared ownership!! In environmental terms it is a great idea, build a set and grant long leases with covenenants enabling use for its original intended purpose with no waste. two birds....