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Paul O'Grady submits plan for guest house at country home in Aldington near Ashford

Paul O'Grady is planning a raft of changes at his country home in Kent - including a new guest house where his celebrity friends could stay.

The TV star wants to knock down a neglected cottage next to his sprawling property in Aldington, near Ashford, to make room for the new building.

O'Grady's house features blue-painted bricks - and this artist's impression shows how it will look if the plans are approved
O'Grady's house features blue-painted bricks - and this artist's impression shows how it will look if the plans are approved

He also hopes to improve his blue-painted Knoll Hill home by converting the loft into a sixth bedroom and adding an entrance lobby to "create a sense of arrival" at the house.

O'Grady, 65, has called on award-winning architecture firm Hollaway to work on the plan for his home, which lies within a Site of Specific Scientific Interest and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It says the cottage earmarked for demolition is in a poor state of disrepair and notes the proposed changes to the main house "are sympathetic to the existing architecture".

The plan includes the removal of five trees to improve the driveway and parking arrangements which are described as "currently restricted and inadequate".

Bosses say landscape alterations have been kept to a minimum, with low-level planters proposed around the planned guest house to "retain the green character of the site".

O'Grady with RSPCA inspector Caroline Hall and Winston the lamb in 2011. Picture: RSPCA
O'Grady with RSPCA inspector Caroline Hall and Winston the lamb in 2011. Picture: RSPCA

Described as a modern cottage, the two-storey home will feature a dining and kitchen space, a separate living area and two upstairs bedrooms.

And the Hythe-based Hollaway team, which submitted a planning application to Ashford Borough Council (ABC) just before Christmas, says it has included a bat loft in the design to mitigate the impact on the winged mammals.

In his main property, O'Grady - who keeps farm animals including pigs and goats on his grounds - also hopes to increase the size of the study and kitchen, and add a spiral staircase leading to the proposed sixth bedroom in the existing loft.

The For the Love of Dogs presenter, who hit the big time as his drag alter ego Lily Savage, has lived at the picturesque spot for years and has opened the Aldington fete on several occasions.

Last summer, he was given the go-ahead to build a private dance studio at his property for his ballet star husband Andre Portasio, 40.

How the guest house could look
How the guest house could look

When built, the facility will feature an 8ft fitted mirror, kitchenette and sound system as well as a green sedum roof.

The scheme - which also included a separate groundskeeper's outbuilding - was approved in July after a planning application was submitted to ABC in May.

In a 2010 interview, O'Grady revealed how he found a home for fellow comedian Julian Clary in the village, but it is believed the TV funnyman has now moved away.

Cairn Cross Terrier Olga helps open the Aldington Primary School fete in 2014
Cairn Cross Terrier Olga helps open the Aldington Primary School fete in 2014
A sketch of the new guest house as submitted for pre-application advice to Ashford Borough Council in 2019
A sketch of the new guest house as submitted for pre-application advice to Ashford Borough Council in 2019
Another early sketch of the planned guest house
Another early sketch of the planned guest house

“It was me who found Julian the house," O'Grady said.

“I knew the couple who lived there and thought 'I know who’ll love this place’.

"I told him and he fell in love with it as soon as he saw it.

The TV star outside Aldington's Walnut Tree in June 2004
The TV star outside Aldington's Walnut Tree in June 2004
Hollaway says the proposal "uses the same materials as existing to make a seamless transition from old to new"
Hollaway says the proposal "uses the same materials as existing to make a seamless transition from old to new"

"It’s a lovely part of the world to live in. I’ve been here for years and it is very much my home.

"When you do get a couple of days of sunshine in Kent and go for a long walk it’s fab. You feel like you’re on permanent holiday.”

In 2019, comedian Alan Carr hinted he may have moved to Aldington in an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show.

O'Grady at the Aldington Primary School summer fete in July 2008
O'Grady at the Aldington Primary School summer fete in July 2008
The dance studio will be a private facility
The dance studio will be a private facility

Last April, O'Grady - who partly filmed ITV show Great British Escape from his home last year - spoke about his experience of having a suspected case of Covid-19.

Last month, KentOnline told the story of the hidden chapel with one of the county's best views which is not far from O'Grady's home.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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