Hollywood star Cate Blanchett and her husband have splashed out almost £3million on two prime development properties in an exclusive coastal village in Cornwall, MailOnline can exclusively reveal today.
Land registry documents seen by MailOnline show the actress, 54, and Andrew Upton, 56, bought an old cottage in Mawgan Porth – nicknamed “Hollywood-On-Sea” by locals because of its newfound celebrity popularity – for £1.6 have millions in December 2020.
A year later, the Australian couple spent a further £1.25 million on an adjacent property directly above.
Their construction work angered neighbors, who accused the “Lord of the Rings” star and her playwright husband of damaging sensitive coastal wildlife habitat by tearing down the “sweet little cottage” and replacing it with a much larger one “eco-house” would have replaced it.
They also say they faced months of disruption from heavy construction traffic, earth-moving excavators and loud vibratory hammer drills used to sink the new property’s foundations.
Mawgan Porth has seen an explosion of interest among celebrities and celebrities looking for a retreat in Cornwall. Property buyers in the village are believed to include Aquaman star Jason Momoa and 50 Shades of Gray star Jamie Dornan.
A spokesperson for the couple told MailOnline they would build a “sustainable replacement home” that would be “designed sensitively, sustainably and in consultation with the local planning authority to minimize the impact of the development on the beautiful surrounding area”.
Film star Cate Blanchett and her husband (pictured at the 43rd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards in February this year) have splashed out almost £3 million on two prime development properties in Mawgan Porth in Cornwall
The two lots on which a new house is being built, believed to belong to Cate Blanchett
Construction workers were seen carrying out their renovation work on the property in the Cornish town
According to a local man who runs a maintenance business for holiday home owners, the land purchase was made to prevent new neighboring buildings from being built nearby.
He said: “They had to secure both sites to avoid prying eyes down the line.” Both were studied to identify and protect rare and sensitive coastal plants. But when you look at the size of this construction site now, you wonder how many of them still survive.
“People are really upset because this and the multi-million pound developments being built by others nearby have completely changed the character of a beautiful bay and the south west coastal path that surrounds it.”
Long-term residents are particularly upset about Ms Blanchett’s development of the old house.
Patricia Marland, who has lived in Mawgan Porth for 50 years, said: “The original cottage used to be surrounded by lots of land which was great for wildlife.” Now they appear to be building right up to the edge of the property. It feels like they left nothing for the birds or insects – not even a bee or a worm.
“People who have lived here for a while have noticed that wildlife is declining and large construction sites like theirs must be a factor.”
Cat Walker, a full-time resident for 33 years, said: “It’s the sheer size of the place they’re building – that’s what upsets me. “I don’t expect the people who move here to keep everything the same. But keep at least some share.
“For months we have been experiencing all the disruption – the pounding drilling operations, the cement trucks, the spoil wagons hauling away tons of demolished construction rubble.” From my garden I can see the farmer’s field on the other side of the valley where everything is being dumped. So many places have been demolished that half of Mawgan Porth that I used to know was there.’
Mawgan Porth (pictured, archive photo) is nicknamed ‘Hollywood-On-Sea’ by locals because of its newfound popularity with celebrities
Pictures show the construction work on the property
Other celebrities are believed to have bought properties in Mawgan Porth (pictured, stock image)
The seaside village is on the north coast of Cornwall near Newquay
Another resident who grew up in the village told MailOnline: “I remember what used to be on Cate Blanchett’s property. “It was a cute little cottage. I am angry about what is happening there because I care about the destruction of our coastal heath.
“Rockbirds, for example, are being pushed into smaller and smaller areas purely out of apparent greed.”
“It’s not just their place.” All these new houses have come up because privileged people can afford to build them. “The poorer families – the kids with their buckets and spades that I saw everywhere as a child – can’t afford to vacation here – let alone live here.”
Another local who works for several holiday home owners said: “They give me and others work, so that’s important.”
“But there are just too many second homes now.” Mawgan Porth is getting the spotlight for its scenery and surf, and people with money coming from the city are deciding they want that lifestyle.
“Well, OK, but that pushes away families whose roots here go back generations.” “The village is full of surf yuppies with surf kids, most of whom contribute nothing to the community.”
However, some full-time residents with homes overlooking Ms Blanchett’s land supported her plans. One said: “It’s a construction site.” It’s temporary. It will work. Get over it.’ Another told MailOnline the construction workers had been “pretty considerate – they don’t start work until after 9am most days”, while a third accused the protesters of “just causing trouble”.
When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Ms Blanchett referred us to a statement from Watershedd Architects which said: “Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett have received planning permission for a sustainable replacement home in Mawgan Porth.” It is modest in size and has been carefully, sustainably designed and in consultation with the local planning authority to minimize the impact of the development on the beautiful surrounding area.
“Throughout the process, together with our clients, we have been in regular contact with friendly and accommodating neighbors to ensure they are aware of our construction program, even pausing work during peak seasonal holidays to minimize expected construction noise and disruption. “
“Our contractor, Noble Construction, is always available to speak with people in the local community if they have any questions about the construction process.”
North and west Cornwall boast some of Europe’s most spectacular surfing beaches, top chefs such as Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver and Nathan Outlaw have restaurants along the coast, while daily flights from Heathrow to Newquay and designated helipads have made the area easily accessible to wealthy shoppers.
Cornwall City Council has warned it will impose an “additional council tax premium” on second homes provided the government’s Leveling-Up and Regeneration Bill comes into force next year.
However, full-time residents in Mawgan Porth believe such an increase will make little difference to wealthy stars like Ms Blanchett.
“She spent the best part of £3 million on this site,” one person told Mail Online. “And that was before a construction worker even got his boots dirty.
“She won’t care much about giving the council a few more grand.”