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Paul O'Grady dance studio plan approved for home in Aldington near Ashford

Paul O'Grady has been given the go-ahead to build a private dance studio at his country home in Kent.

The TV favourite, 65, will erect the building on the grounds of his house in Aldington near Ashford for his ballet star husband Andre Portasio, 40.

Paul O'Grady has lived in Aldington for years and has opened the village fete on several occasions, including here in 2008
Paul O'Grady has lived in Aldington for years and has opened the village fete on several occasions, including here in 2008

Featuring an 8ft fitted mirror, kitchenette and sound system, the studio will have a green sedum roof which architects say will help it blend in with its surroundings and encourage biodiversity.

The scheme – which also includes a separate groundskeeper's outbuilding – was approved yesterday after a planning application was submitted to Ashford Borough Council (ABC) in May.

O'Grady called on award-winning Hythe-based architects Hollaway to work on the plan, which took more than a year to prepare as his home lies within a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSI) and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

But Kent County Council’s ecological advice service found there was a "limited potential for protected/notable species to be impacted by the proposed development".

In documents submitted with the planning application – which received no objections from neighbours – a preliminary ecological survey said the scheme was no threat to great-crested newts, bats and birds.

The dance studio will be a private facility
The dance studio will be a private facility

KCC said it was satisfied no additional ecological surveys were needed, but made a number of recommendations to "enhance the site for biodiversity".

It has recommended the installation of bird, bat and hedgehog boxes, as well as a "wildlife friendly planting scheme".

O'Grady, who hit the big time as his drag alter ego Lily Savage, has lived at the Knoll Hill spot for years and has opened the Aldington fete on several occasions.

In a 2010 interview, the For the Love of Dogs presenter 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.

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

Paul O'Grady at the Aldington village fete in 2008
Paul O'Grady at the Aldington village fete in 2008

“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.

"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.”

How the groundskeeper's outbuilding will look
How the groundskeeper's outbuilding will look
Paul O'Grady visits rescued pigs the Tamworth Two at the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch in 2003
Paul O'Grady visits rescued pigs the Tamworth Two at the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch in 2003

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

In April, O'Grady spoke about his experience of having a suspected case of Covid-19.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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