25th August 2015
George and Amal Clooney have been granted permission to install cameras and new security fencing around their Berkshire home after a lengthy battle with the council.
Celebrities and high net worth individuals are increasingly opting to live in Britain and the Clooneys have joined Brad Pitt, Madonna, Tim Burton, Kevin Spacey and more. Understandably, these celebrities often want to beef up security on their sprawling country estates and George and his wife are determined to protect themselves and their privacy on their £10 million, Grade II listed Aberlash House in Sonning Eye, Reading.
The river and surrounding countryside provide ample cover and access for paparazzi and potential intruders. The Clooneys were inevitably going to want to improve security at their new home, but that is not a simple matter with a Grade II listed building, as every major modification to the property must go through the planning permission process.
Builders originally erected a lattice fence, but the local council stepped in and demanded that they remove it as it wasn’t the requisite eight feet from the riverbank. Since then, the Clooneys’ lawyers have been locked in discussions with the council and finally the celebrity couple have secured permission for a series of new perimeter fences, new gatehouses and a CCTV system with cameras mounted on 18-foot poles.
The Clooneys’ neighbours and the local parish council initially objected to the proposals for security cameras, feeling that their own privacy would be compromised by the security system. The council also believed that the cameras, which were initially going to be mounted on even taller poles, would create a visual intrusion in a well-known conservation area.
After lengthy negotiations, most of the Clooneys’ proposals have been accepted, including an aggressive new security fence to protect the property, an extension to the annexe building that will become a luxurious gym, steam room and boat house, and a sophisticated gatehouse that will control access to the property.
Buying and securing a Grade II listed building is not as simple as it seems, especially if you’re a household name. Everything is possible, though, especially if your security specialists know about planning laws and can design a system that is sympathetic to the local community and the land itself.