Clooneys' neighbors furious over installation of 18 CCTV cameras around couple's UK mansion

Published January 6th, 2016 - 05:43 GMT
George bought Amal their UK mansion after tying the knot in 2014. (File photo)
George bought Amal their UK mansion after tying the knot in 2014. (File photo)

George Clooney has agreed to change the colours of the CCTV system of his Oxfordshire mansion to appease his new neighbours.

Residents of Sonning complained after he planted a screen of cameras on and around the £10 million Mill House, calling the installation 'unsightly and intrusive'.

Clooney, 54, who bought the property with his wife Amal, 37, in October 2014 after tying the knot in Venice, has now agreed to change the colour of the cameras' protective covers, South Oxfordshire district council said.

He won planning permission in August 2015 to erect up to eight cameras on 18-foot wooden poles in the grounds, and a further ten fixed to the house itself.

But neighbours complained about the white hoods on the black cameras, three of which overlook the river.

The actor has had them changed to dark green to blend in with the countryside.

South Oxfordshire district councillor Paul Harrison said concerns were raised by David Woodward, chairman of Eye and Dunsden Parish Council, and he had received complaints from three residents.

He said: 'The camera itself is a black unit but there was white protective housing on the top of it, which prompted concerns.

'David Woodward contacted me about that, and I went and had a look and found it was unsightly.

'It was quite bright, a brilliant white. I thought it was out of character and would destroy the visual aspect.'

He raised the issue with planning officer Emma Bowerman, who wrote to the actor's agent.

Councillor Harrison said: 'From our point of view it's very good that the applicant, or the agents, have listened to the views of residents and addressed the problem.'

The couple installed CCTV to act as surveillance in case burglars or stalkers try to intrude.

Eye and Dunsden Parish Council previously objected, claiming that the wide range of cameras would represent a ‘potential infringement of the privacy of neighbouring properties’. 

The luxurious Thames riverside home has cameras encased in protective vandal-resistant domes, which can be tilted or panned to face any direction around the house. 

The council said the poles would be a 'visual intrusion' into the village's conservation area, adding: 'A more appropriate security system could be achieved by a greater number of inward-facing low-level cameras.' 

The Clooneys got permission to install the current cameras after their planning agent, Paul Butt, submitted an amended application, which planned to reduce the height of the two tallest CCTV support posts.

South Oxfordshire council planning officers rubber-stamped the amended plans, ruling that they 'would not be detrimental to the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building or its setting'.

The house is a Grade II listed building, meaning it is a particularly important construction of more than special interest.

Senior planning officer Paul Lucas said the cameras would not be detrimental to the character and appearance of the site or the surrounding conservation area nor would they be 'unneighbourly'.

The council's decision notice says the work must be carried out within three years of the date of consent, which is by August 2018.

The nine-bedroom building sits on a four-acre stretch of land straddling the border between Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the picturesque quietude of the River Thames.

Extensive renovation work is currently taking place on the hideaway, where scaffolding has been erected while builders fix the roof.

While they cannot extend the listed manor house, the couple were recently granted planning permission to do major extension work to the neighbouring annexe, which currently houses a boathouse and a greenhouse.

The stunning property has a gym, a steam room, a library, a study, a family room, a formal dining room and a cellar.

The annexe development will add a state-of-the-art 12-seat cinema for private home screenings to part of the greenhouse.

A new pool house, a pergola and a hot tub will be built on to the back of the existing riverside boathouse next to an 18m swimming pool. 

New boundary fencing is being added around the riverside estate and new solid gates fitted for added privacy and security. 

The Clooneys moved out over Christmas 2014 while repairs were done to the listed property and they awaited the decisions on their planning applications. 

They have been spotted dining at the village pub, The Bull Inn, and taking in a show at the neighbouring Mill at Sonning riverside theatre.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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