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George Clooney ‘wants to build a mega mansion in an area dubbed the Hamptons of Portugal’  

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Hollywood star George Clooney looks set to add to his property portfolio by building a mega mansion for his family in an area dubbed the ‘Hamptons of Portugal’.

The actor and his wife Amal, already have two luxury homes ‘abroad’ – an 18th century waterfront mansion at Lake Como in Italy and a 17th century pad in Sonning, Berkshire.

Both have recently been affected by floods so it seems he’s no taking no chances with his latest purchase – a clifftop villa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the beautiful village of Melides on Portugal’s west coast.

EXCLUSIVE: George Clooney is set to add to his property portfolio - by building a mega mansion in an area dubbed the 'Hamptons of Portugal' where Madonna and Nicolas Sarkozy already have homes

EXCLUSIVE: George Clooney is set to add to his property portfolio – by building a mega mansion in an area dubbed the ‘Hamptons of Portugal’ where Madonna and Nicolas Sarkozy already have homes 

Practical pair: George and his wife Amal (pictured in 2019) already have two luxury homes 'abroad' ¿ an 18th century waterfront mansion at Lake Como in Italy and a 17th century pad in Sonning, Berkshire

Practical pair: George and his wife Amal (pictured in 2019) already have two luxury homes ‘abroad’ – an 18th century waterfront mansion at Lake Como in Italy and a 17th century pad in Sonning, Berkshire

The area, with its secluded beaches and surfing waves, has been compared to St Tropez in the 1960s and Ibiza before it became party central.

And it has caught the eye of several leading jet-setters including Madonna, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian beauty Monica Bellucci.

Now, according to the respected Portuguese news and economics website ECO, the Clooney’s have fallen deeply in love with the place and are planning to build.

Their report stated: ‘George Clooney is going to invest in Portugal, specifically in Melides south of Comporta. ECO has learned the American actor and producer is going to buy a plot of land in the CostaTerra Golf & Ocean Club project owned by Discovery Land Company.’

Land to build: Clooney has had properties affected by floods so it seems he's no taking no chances with his latest purchase ¿ a clifftop villa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the beautiful village of Melides on Portugal's west coast.

Land to build: Clooney has had properties affected by floods so it seems he’s no taking no chances with his latest purchase – a clifftop villa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the beautiful village of Melides on Portugal’s west coast.

Clooney has been led to this latest investment by his fellow tequila tycoon Mike Meldman.

The pair teamed up in 2013 to launch tequila firm Casamigos and sold it four years later for a reported £1bn.

Meldman, the CEO of the Discovery Land Company, acquired the 722-acre plot which runs along the Atlantic coast in 2019, with an initial £435million investment.

Having already overseen the building of 24 luxury residential golf communities around the world, he has now established the CostaTerra Golf & Ocean Club luxury resort community.

Striking: The area, with its secluded beaches and surfing waves, has been compared to St Tropez in the 1960s and Ibiza before it became party central

Striking: The area, with its secluded beaches and surfing waves, has been compared to St Tropez in the 1960s and Ibiza before it became party central

See the potential: Now, according to the respected Portuguese news and economics website ECO, the Clooney's have fallen deeply in love with the place and are planning to build

See the potential: Now, according to the respected Portuguese news and economics website ECO, the Clooney’s have fallen deeply in love with the place and are planning to build

It recently claimed that a Wellness centre, equestrian centre, community village, 18-star golf course, 146 single-family homes and 29 residences belonging to the club would be completed by the spring of next year.

The Clooneys will no doubt have been reassured by the green credentials claimed by the estate they plan on moving to.

According to the CostaTerra website it is a, ‘flourishing community and thriving ecosystem grounded firmly in the values of sustainable development’. It describes itself to potential buyers as ‘your family’s private European escape.’

Under construction: Clooney has been led to this latest investment by his fellow tequila tycoon Mike Meldman and his villa will be on the grounds shared with the CostaTerra Golf & Ocean Club which is currently under construction

Under construction: Clooney has been led to this latest investment by his fellow tequila tycoon Mike Meldman and his villa will be on the grounds shared with the CostaTerra Golf & Ocean Club which is currently under construction 

Plenty of potential: It recently claimed that a Wellness centre, equestrian centre, community village, 18-star golf course, 146 single-family homes and 29 residences belonging to the club would be completed by the spring of next year

Plenty of potential: It recently claimed that a Wellness centre, equestrian centre, community village, 18-star golf course, 146 single-family homes and 29 residences belonging to the club would be completed by the spring of next year

However, it is understood that the Clooneys do not want one of the estate’s ‘off the shelf’ luxury villas but intend to take over the design of their own property.

According to Spanish digital newspaper El Confidencial, the family plan on visiting the area later this month to look at the evolution of their new home.

If the purchase is confirmed it will be the fourth major property owned by the star and his wife.

Idyllic: Clooney will no doubt have been reassured by the green credentials claimed by the estate they plan on moving to

Idyllic: Clooney will no doubt have been reassured by the green credentials claimed by the estate they plan on moving to 

Green: According to the CostaTerra website it is a 'flourishing community and thriving ecosystem grounded firmly in the values of sustainable development'. It describes itself to potential buyers as 'your family's private European escape'

Green: According to the CostaTerra website it is a ‘flourishing community and thriving ecosystem grounded firmly in the values of sustainable development’. It describes itself to potential buyers as ‘your family’s private European escape’

The others are a multi-million dollar apartment in New York, a £13 million mansion on the River Thames in Berkshire and another mansion on the banks of Lake Como in Italy which he allowed the Obama family to use as a getaway in 2019.

Both the English and Italian properties have been affected by floods in recent times.

In 2020 after Storm Dennis struck, the River Thames burst its banks flooding his property.

And in July of this year, while he was staying at Lake Como with wife Amal and their four year old twin sons, the roads outside their property turned into a river as floods destroyed several homes in the area.

Doing it their way: It is understood that the Clooneys do not want one of the estate's 'off the shelf' luxury villas but intend to take over the design of their own property

Doing it their way: It is understood that the Clooneys do not want one of the estate’s ‘off the shelf’ luxury villas but intend to take over the design of their own property

Get ready for the Clooneys! According to Spanish digital newspaper El Confidencial, the family plan on visiting the area later this month to look at the evolution of their new home

Get ready for the Clooneys! According to Spanish digital newspaper El Confidencial, the family plan on visiting the area later this month to look at the evolution of their new home

Melides, sitting high on the coast should be reassuringly above sea-level, and offer the family breath-taking ocean views.

However, it is not clear how much use he will get out of the development’s stunning 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

According to Golf Digest, who produce the handicaps of celebrity participants, he ‘plays rarely and doesn’t talk about it’ with a handicap of 25.

The Discovery Land Company and CostaTerraGolf and Ocean Club were both contacted for comment.

A spokesman for Discovery Land Company said: ‘George Clooney is indeed a business partner of Mike Meldman in a joint tequila venture called Casamigos. We do not comment any activities related to our properties.’

Shocking: The Clooneys own a multi-million dollar apartment in New York, a mansion on the banks of Lake Como in Italy and £13 million mansion on the River Thames in Berkshire (pictured) which fell foul to flooding in February

Shocking: The Clooneys own a multi-million dollar apartment in New York, a mansion on the banks of Lake Como in Italy and £13 million mansion on the River Thames in Berkshire (pictured) which fell foul to flooding in February 

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Happy in Hexham: We visit the Northumberland town voted the jolliest place to live

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Driving into Hexham, I cross a sturdy stone bridge spanning the Tyne. The satnav is set for the Market Place, but forget about parking there or in the short-stay.

In fact, I’m forced back down the hill to the huge car park by Waitrose. Not many spaces here either. Maybe everyone is flocking to Hexham after the property website Rightmove announced this week that it’s the Happiest Town in Britain.

Or maybe, it’s just a normal weekday: Northumberland is a huge county and this is the only realistic place to do your shopping if you live between Newcastle and Carlisle.

Convivial: Hexham¿s Market Place. The market town was a frontline settlement in the medieval skirmishes and wars between Scotland and England

Convivial: Hexham’s Market Place. The market town was a frontline settlement in the medieval skirmishes and wars between Scotland and England

Fortunately, it’s only a short walk uphill on Hallgate from the car park to the Market Place, enough to establish the demographics of this northern market town. 

Hallgate is a winding row of fine Georgian houses — there’s a memorial mason, chic hairdresser’s, three cafes, four art galleries. And Waitrose.

The huge, impregnable cube of the old gaol in the centre of town is a reminder of a more turbulent history.

This was a frontline settlement in the medieval skirmishes and wars between Scotland and England. 

That noble, heroic William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace terrorised Northumbria in 1297 — something Mel Gibson managed to leave out of his movie — though the monks of Hexham Abbey struck a deal to save the town.

If today’s residents are ecstatic at their Rightmove award, they are hiding it well. The newsagent hasn’t read the newspapers describing Hexham’s triumph.

But at the Grateful Bread artisan baker in Market Street, I’m told: ‘Aye, they’re happy enough around here.’

An informative welcome: Hexham boasts chic shops, a bustling High Street and the ancient kingdom of Northumbria on its doorstep - as well as rows of fine Georgian houses

An informative welcome: Hexham boasts chic shops, a bustling High Street and the ancient kingdom of Northumbria on its doorstep – as well as rows of fine Georgian houses

I buy one of the shop’s fine sourdough loaves, noting that the £4 price tag wouldn’t be out of place in the second happiest town on Rightmove’s list, swanky Richmond in South-West London.

The story that made the biggest difference to the town isn’t the two Rightmove wins (they also won the Happy gong in 2019), but Country Life’s description of Hexham as ‘the best market town in Britain’. That was in 2005.

Some residents describe the property market here as BCL and ACL — Before and After Country Life. 

And the houses on offer are a far cry from the ‘small, spare, dour’ cottage the writer Joan Aiken encountered when she first came here in the 1930s. But like many southerners, she stayed.

I do find some people who aren’t overly happy: estate agents. That might seem odd. After all, a major property website has just given their town a big shot in the arm. 

At Pattinson estate agents, situated on the wonderfully named Priestpopple, manager and senior valuer Marc Hydelman tells me prices ‘have shot up. And as an estate agent I ought to be pleased — we’re up 60 per cent on last year. Crazy.’ He is also happy he moved here from Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire, 29 years ago.

So why the unhappiness? ‘Supply can’t keep up with demand,’ says Mr Hydelman. As a result, you will struggle to find any properties for sale in Hexham town centre.

‘Lack of supply is hitting both rentals and sales,’ agrees Ed Seymour of Foster Maddison. ‘Some vendors are being aspirational with prices, but good stock is selling fast — often over the asking price. We have had more best and final offers at closing dates than we have ever had — it sounds great, but the volume of sales is still down hugely’.

 Hexham is handsome and agreeable. That said, I can name half a dozen English market towns I’ve visited in the past three years alone that can rival it

Hexham is handsome and agreeable. That said, I can name half a dozen English market towns I’ve visited in the past three years alone that can rival it: Malvern, Tetbury, Shaftesbury, Uppingham, Diss, Market Harborough.

What you don’t get in those towns is an average price of under £300,000 for a house. And you also don’t get the ancient kingdom of Northumbria on your doorstep. 

As the winter light fades, I drive north to a section of Hadrian’s Wall at Carrawburgh. Here, sunken in a farmer’s field, are the remains of a temple dedicated to the Roman god Mithras.

It’s not the most impressive Roman ruin. But then I gaze north and south and see England’s most magnificent county stretching as far as the eye can see. There’s not a soul in sight. And that makes a lot of people happy. 

On the market… Cheery homes 

Bellingham: There are two bedrooms in this cottage in Bellingham, which is 16 miles north of Hexham and close to the Northumberland National Park. Pattinson, 01434 605 376. £165,000

Hexham: This four-bedroom house is on Laurel Road on the outskirts of the town. There is a single garage and the property is surrounded by woodland. Red Hot Property, 01434 601 800. £375, 000  

Fourstones: The Gables has five bedrooms, sweeping country views and is a ten-minute drive from Hexham. The home is in the village of Fourstones. Finest Properties, 01434 622 234. £565,000

 

 

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Everybody over 16 to get booster shots following Niac recommendations

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Everybody over the age of 16 in the State will now be offered booster shots following a decision by the Department of Health based on advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

The booster shot will be offered in order of preference to pregnant women first, then those aged 40 to 49 and finally those aged between 16 and 39 in descending order starting with the oldest first.

They will receive their extra jab in these cohorts at least five months after their last vaccine, but, in the case of those who have been given the one shot Janssen vaccine, the gap will be at least three months.

Those who have had Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated before will have to wait at least six months following infection to receive their dose.

It now means that everybody over the age of 16 will be offered a booster as Niac has already approved the shots for everybody who is 50 or over.

Booster shots were first recommended for those over 80 or those over the age of 65 in nursing homes in September. Last month the programme was extended to 60 to 79 year olds and on November 15th to those between 50 and 59.

This advice received by Niac reflects the recommendations made in respect of booster doses in the latest European Centre of Disease Control (ECDC) rapid risk assessment which recommends that countries should consider a booster dose for all adults with priority being given to people aged 40 years of age and above.

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it will be some time before the new cohorts get their vaccine as they have not reached the recommended gap since the second dose.

“We continue to prioritise boosters because we know that they are having a positive impact on the level of hospitalisation, severe illness and mortality from Covid-19 in those aged over 70,” Mr Donnelly said.

The HSE has started offering walk-in clinics for Covid-19 booster vaccines to people in their 60s and to healthcare workers at designated times through its vaccination centres.

In a speed-up of the booster programme, the walk-in clinics will be available to eligible groups once it has been at least five months since their second dose of a Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca jab in their initial vaccinations, or three months since the individual received the single Janssen vaccine.

The booster rollout will also be accelerated for those who are in their 60s.

Damien McCallion, the HSE’s national lead for vaccinations and testing, said that many of the 470,000 people in their 60s will only become eligible for boosters over the coming weeks.

The walk-in clinics will allow the HSE to administer booster doses more quickly. Details of the times and locations of the walk-in vaccinations are available on the HSE’s website.

“We are very conscious that life has moved on for many people and it isn’t always possible for people to come forward on an appointment basis,” he told the weekly HSE briefing.

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How can I ensure my listed home’s kitchen extension has right approvals? 

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I’m buying a listed property and want to make sure a recent kitchen extension was done with the right approvals. 

How do I check this and protect myself on this front? LP

Before buying a period property, check for the correct consents if any renovation work was carried out

Before buying a period property, check for the correct consents if any renovation work was carried out

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: Before buying a period property with a recent kitchen extension, you will need to check that the relevant consents were sought.

This is because you will inherit the liability for any unauthorised work undertaken by the vendor.

Ultimately, this risk can be removed completely by reversing the works carried out – if that is possible – or by applying retrospectively for consent for the kitchen extension.

There are compromises that can be made, including looking at an indemnity insurance that will cover you and bank against the cost of rectifying unauthorised alterations.

And if you are a cash buyer, then you can decide to proceed on the basis that you will accept the risk for the lack of consent.

Vanessa Rhodes, of law firm Kingsley Napley, said: If you’re looking to buy a house that is listed, it is likely to be a unique and interesting property full of character. You are right that being listed means there are additional controls over any works to the property.

The National Heritage List for England protects buildings of special architectural or historical interest, which are considered to be of national importance. It means listed building consent is required for all works of demolition, alteration or extension to a listed building.

Local planning authorities provide approval for works to listed buildings. Where the works have an impact on the external appearance of the building, planning permission may also be required and should be applied for at the same time. 

For example, this may include building an extension or installing new windows and doors. 

Below, Vanessa covers what you need to know: 

How do I check necessary consents were obtained?

Make sure that you instruct a specialist heritage surveyor to review the property and all the planning and listed building consents for the property to verify the corrects consents were obtained.

This can be in addition to having a regular building survey carried out or some surveyors will do both in one survey. 

The heritage survey should make clear whether the kitchen extension was approved, and what to do if it isn’t. 

You can get heritage surveyors that will do both in one survey and charge the same as a standard building survey but frequently, clients will instruct one in addition to the building surveyor and they are usually slightly cheaper.

Heritage surveys also provide historic building and heritage conservation advice to assist buyers who will be responsible for the practical care of historic buildings.

Your solicitor will review the results of the local authority search for the property, which reveals all the permissions obtained from the local planning authority for the property. 

They will also raise enquiries with the seller to find out if the right consents have been obtained and check that any conditions on the listed building consents have been discharged or, if there are on-going conditions that they are being complied with.

Your solicitor and heritage surveyor will also check to see if the work was done before the building was listed. If this is the case, there will be no issue as no listed building consent will have been needed.

Why is checking important?

It is essential to check if the previous owners obtained the relevant consents because you will inherit the liability for any unauthorised work they undertook.

Given there is no time limit on enforcement action, you may be required to reverse the alteration at any time in the future. In effect, therefore you may potentially have to ‘undo’ or alter the kitchen extension if it lacked approval. 

This could be costly and may reduce the value and your enjoyment of the property, so should be carefully considered before proceeding with the purchase.

It is also a criminal offence not to seek listed building consent when it is required. 

The maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Not knowing a building is listed, or claiming the works were carried out by a previous owner are not defences to any criminal proceedings.

Your options as a buyer

As the buyer, you need to consider the extent of any liability you might take on before proceeding with the purchase. 

If you find that works have been carried out to the property without the appropriate consents or the listed building consent conditions have been breached, you will need to consider the extent of the breach. 

The heritage surveyor will normally guide you as to whether you will be able to obtain retrospective listed building consent for the breach and which breaches could be problematic.

If the kitchen extension was not approved, there are various things that you can do as part of the conveyancing process to alleviate any stress or anxiety about the consent, and ultimately protect yourself.

The way to remove the risk completely is to reverse the alteration – if possible – or for you or the seller to apply retrospectively for consent for the kitchen extension. 

You may elect to negotiate a conditional contract with the seller, which stipulates that you will only complete the purchase of the property when the seller has obtained retrospective consent for the kitchen extension if it was unapproved.

Most sellers will be reluctant to agree to this approach because if they apply for retrospective consent and are unsuccessful, then it draws the issue to the attention of the local planning authority who are then likely to serve an enforcement notice on the seller in relation to the alterations.

Alternatives include negotiating a price reduction to cover the costs and hassle of obtaining retrospective consent for the extension after completion. 

Any price negotiation should include recognition of the fact that the buyer will be accepting the risk for the lack of consent, and any liability that comes with it.

If you are a cash buyer, then you can decide to proceed on the basis that you will accept the risk for the lack of consent. 

However, if you are using a mortgage, the bank will require you to obtain indemnity insurance, which will cover you and the bank against the cost of rectifying unauthorised alterations. 

You will need to discuss the indemnity insurance policy with your solicitor though as they often include provisions that invalidate the policy if you approach the local planning authority for consent for any works in the future.

For example, if you want to carry out alterations to another part of the property and apply for consent then this could invalidate the policy. 

There are some more bespoke indemnity policies available that might get round this problem but these policies can be costly or have a high excess.

Another factor to bear in mind is that if the kitchen extension was carried out without proper consent, then you, in turn, will have to deal with this problem as part of any future sale of the property unless you and the seller can resolve the issue now, either by removing or adapting the alterations or by obtaining retrospective consent.

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