Gary Neville has scrapped plans to power his multi-million pound “Tellytubby” home with a giant wind turbine after neighbours complained it would become an eyesore.
The retired Premiership footballer, 37, had won council approval to erect the 127 foot high turbine to power his new £8 million eco-mansion in the heart of the Lancashire countryside.
The former Manchester United captain believed the giant turbine would help make the striking underground mansion in the Pennines the “greenest house” in Britain.
But neighbours living next to the 18th century farming hamlet property, near Bolton, warned it would become an “eyesore”.
Despite offering to reduce its height by almost 30 feet, today it emerged that the Sky Sports pundit has agreed to scrap the turbine. The “goodwill” gesture was welcomed by delighted neighbours.
While he had received permission from Bolton Council to build the turbine, it is understood the former England defender will install a new “ecosystem” to power the luxury 8,000 sq ft “eco-bunker”.
Under the plans, energy produced from the wind turbine would have been used to power the property with any extra energy supplying the national grid, helping to reduce its carbon footprint.
But now new system will include a ground source heat pump, sustainable rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells, which convert light directly into electricity.
The amount of land the five-bedroom underground home will take up has been also been reduced. Instead of being a single storey home, it will be built over two floors.
The majority of construction will also occur off site, reducing building the time and keeping neighbourhood disturbance to a minimum.
Neville, a known environmentalist, wants to build the carbon-neutral house next to his current 12-bedroom home, a former farmstead on the moors between Bolton and Bury, Lancs.
Although the site, on former farmland owned by Neville near Harwood, Lancs, sits on the greenbelt, Bolton Council’s planning committee gave it the green light last year.
A report submitted to the council stated: “The design of the house and its exceptional sustainability ensures it can be considered to have a very limited impact on the green belt.”
It was suggested it bore remarkable resemblance to the grassy retreat from the children’s television show Teletubbies, which is home to Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po.
Comparisons with the BBC programme were based on the building’s unusual semi-submerged design, intended to minimise its impact on the moorland landscape.
Neville and his wife Emma Hadfield spent three years drafting designs for the property, which will contain solar panels, a large central kitchen and various wings.
He initially failed to secure planning permission for the house but appealed and submitted a new bid, which proposed a shorter 98 feet high wind turbine.
In March last year, Bolton Council’s planning committee granted building permission although neighbours still held reservations.
While he was given the green light Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, a few months, Neville decided to amend his plans to maintain neighbourhood peace.
Today neighbours welcomed the move.
“We’re just glad Mr Neville has seen sense because a structure like that in excess of 100 feet high would have been an eyesore,” said one resident, who declined to be named.
“He may think it will help the environment but he must have been living in tellytubbyland if he thought no one would object to a whacking great turbine spoiling the landscape.”
Another said residents had been “concerned about the height of the wind turbine”.
They added: “We’re just grateful Gary has listened to his neighbours’ concerns and gone away and come back with a more thoughtful application.
“Now the turbine has been removed from the application I have no problems with it.”
Another woman, 58, added: “I enjoy walking near to the land and I do fear it could be an eyesore but I think very few people will actually notice it now the wind turbine element has disappeared.
“The house will be relatively hidden and if it is going to be even more environmentally friendly then it sounds much more positive.
“I just hope Mr Neville won’t expand it too much and reapply for the elements he has removed at a later date.”
Mike Ralph, the planning director, from RED Property Services, which is representing Neville, said: “The delivery of a highly sustainable family home has always been central to this proposal.
“Earlier in the year, we met with local residents and confirmed an alternative method of construction was being explored, which would enable the house to achieve a higher standard of sustainability, whilst also enabling the proposed wind turbine to be removed.”
Neville is presently living in a £10m, 12 bedroom mansion near the site with his wife and their children Molly, three and two year-old Sophie.
The new plans will be resubmitted to Bolton Council.
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