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England is forever as Bond stays at home

James Bond has been saved for Britain after swift work by planners, film-makers and businessmen found a new home for the legendary secret agent, writes Louise Jury.

The production team for the 18th adventure with secret agent 007 moved on to the 12-acre site in Hertfordshire, on Tuesday.

Fears had grown that the next Bond movie might have to be made abroad after the Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire, where the 17th film, Goldeneye, was made, were booked for the making of three new Star Wars epics.

But Eon Productions, the Bond film producers, and Herts Film Link, the county's film-promoting unit, co-operated on scouring the region to find an alternative and discovered a disused site at the village of Frogmore.

Barbara Broccoli, the daughter of the late James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli, and Michael Wilson, his stepson, visited the site 10 days ago, consultations were held with residents and the local authority over last weekend and outline planning permission was granted by St Albans Council on Monday. Shooting, with Pierce Brosnan as Bond, is now scheduled to start in February.

Gordon Arnell, of Eon, said they were delighted. "It's always been American money, but Bond is a very British subject. It always worked well for the Broccoli family here."

Although one film was filmed substantially in France and another in Mexico, British crews were acknowledged world experts and a base near London gave ready access to that expertise. "Over 30 years we have two or three generations of technicians who have come to work on the Bonds," Mr Arnell said.

Chris Holt, of Herts Film Link, said: "If everyone wants it to happen and you have the right people behind it and the drive, you can do these things.

"We all wanted it for Britain. It will be a good boost for our local economy and great kudos."

Eon had accounts with around 200 small local suppliers when it was making Goldeneye.