George and Amal Clooney face privacy issues at £12m Berkshire home

George and Amal Clooney face privacy issues at £12m Berkshire home


George and Amal Clooney could soon be facing privacy issues at their £12million Berkshire mansion as a neighbouring theatre has applied to convert the space into housing.

If successful, the The Mill at Sonning, which is situated next-door to the Clooneys Grade II-listed home, will be turned into semi-detached houses that would oversee the couple’s sprawling property. 

The news will no doubt come as a shock to the couple, who helped keep the theatre company stay afloat during the pandemic with a substantial donation last October.  

Exclusive: George and Amal Clooney face privacy issues at £12m Berkshire home after theatre (that they helped save from closure) plans to convert into houses overlooking their garden

Generous: The news will no doubt come as a shock to George and Amal, who helped keep the theatre company stay afloat during the pandemic with a substantial donation last October

Generous: The news will no doubt come as a shock to George and Amal, who helped keep the theatre company stay afloat during the pandemic with a substantial donation last October

Despite the celeb couple’s contribution, the playhouse is still struggling and recently applied for planning permission to convert its rehearsal and visiting actors’ accommodation into two semi-detached residential dwellings, ’specifically to provide additional financial support to the theatre in order to ensure its future.’

According to the planning statement, ‘the pandemic caused the Theatre to close its doors in March 2020 – the business is in dire straits and has been on the verge of closing completely.’

However, the new planning app may not be quite as pleasing for George, 61, and Amal, 43, who’ve always given their full support to the theatre.

The proposed two-storey properties will each have three bedrooms, an open plan kitchen and lounge, and a balcony on the top floor. Yet the balconies will be overlooking the river and, more significantly, the Clooneys property.

Back on its feet: The Hollywood A-lister, 59, and the barrister, 42, donated towards The Mill at Sonning Theatre (pictured) last year to help keep the struggling business afloat

Back on its feet: The Hollywood A-lister, 59, and the barrister, 42, donated towards The Mill at Sonning Theatre (pictured) last year to help keep the struggling business afloat 

The theatre’s planning application acknowledged it was a potential trouble spot, stating in its Design & Access Statement: 

‘It is worth noting that although there will be views out over the river, there is already a relatively high and dense screen of trees on the opposite bank, edging Mill House, and as such we do not foresee that there will be any negative impact on either privacy or visual amenity experienced by the owners of Mill House as a result of these proposals.’

However, in colder months, that screening of bushy trees is usually more threadbare.

Proposals: Despite the celeb couple's contribution, the playhouse applied for planning permission to convert into two semi-detached residential dwellings

Proposals: Despite the celeb couple’s contribution, the playhouse applied for planning permission to convert into two semi-detached residential dwellings

Plans: The proposed two-storey properties will each have three bedrooms, an open plan kitchen and lounge, and a balcony on the top floor

Plans: The proposed two-storey properties will each have three bedrooms, an open plan kitchen and lounge, and a balcony on the top floor

A notice letter was sent out to the couple’s residence by South Oxfordshire District Council, but they didn’t make a complaint.

The Theatres Trust aren’t happy with parts of the plans, concerned about noise levels coming from the theatre and future income dipping due to no rehearsal space.

It said: ‘The applicant notes that acoustic measures will exceed “standard requirements” and we suggest this is conditioned to safeguard the theatre’s activities into the future and protect it from complaints and restrictions being imposed on it.

‘Although sympathetic to the theatre’s need to review its options to ensure it will be sustained into the future, particularly given the extreme challenges arising from the pandemic, it must be careful not to undermine its future viability.

‘The rehearsal space constitutes part of the theatre’s cultural and social offer and this will be lost; it is also potentially a source of income for the theatre if open to outside groups.’

History: The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill - which was a derelict building - in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982

History: The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill – which was a derelict building – in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982

The plans have also irked the Environment Agency, who objected on three counts that there was ’no assessment of the risks to nature conservation’, an ‘inadequate buffer zone’ to the river bank, and the ‘absence of an acceptable Flood Risk Assessment’.

Amal and George’s property was hit with floods in February this year and January 2020, which left their grounds swamped with muddy water.

In response, the theatre changed their plans for the properties to be situated further from the river and produced an ecology report. There’s also been an application to Natural England for a bat licence and proposals now include bat roosting areas.

The council targeted June 2 for a decision date, which is now two months overdue.

Background: The Mill is now run by Tim and Eileen's daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past

Background: The Mill is now run by Tim and Eileen’s daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past

The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill – which was a derelict building – in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982.

It is now run by their daughter, artistic director Sally Hughes, who has received help from the Clooneys in the past.

In 2018, Sally won approval for a development of five properties after the celebrity couple lodged no objections.

She had the pair over to watch performances and allowed them to use her car park for the many contractors who were renovating their nine-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion, which they bought in 2014 and moved into three years later.

The theatre owner built the flats to help pay a £1 million bill caused by woodworm at the theatre — a converted 18th-century flour mill on a small island in the Thames.

In October, the Mill announced on Facebook, special praise for the Clooneys and playwright Ray Cooney, whose comedies are often performed there.

It said: ‘Since July, when the theatre celebrated its 38th birthday, The Mill has only been able to operate its adjoining restaurant with reduced seating, but this together with fundraising and donations from Mill Angel supporters and Hollywood star George Clooney and his wife Amal, who are near neighbours and regular attenders, have been a lifeline to ensure the venue’s survival.’

‘Artistic Director Sally Hughes singles out special praise for the playwright Ray Cooney, whose legendary farces are performed regularly at the venue.’ 

History: The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill - which was a derelict building - in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982

History: The late Tim and Eileen Richards found The Mill – which was a derelict building – in 1977, and opened the theatre in 1982

Last year, it was reported that George and Amal, who share twins Ella and Alexander, four, were building a shed for ‘security purposes’ in the grounds of their sprawling listed mansion home. 

In a planning request to the local council, their new addition – complete with what appears to be a toilet – is described as a simple, single-storey timber construction with a pitched roof clad in cedar shingles. 

The duo’s abode, which stands on an idyllic stretch of the Thames, is secluded by trees on acres of land – but it appears they are keen to beef up security as the famous home attracts more tourists. 

It will be built in the style of a garden shed near their gravel driveway at the Georgian property.

Security: Last year, it was reported that George and Amal, who share twins Ella and Alexander were building a shed for 'security purposes' in the grounds of their home (pictured in 2019)

Security: Last year, it was reported that George and Amal, who share twins Ella and Alexander were building a shed for ‘security purposes’ in the grounds of their home (pictured in 2019)



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