Crown Estate set to U-turn on Billionaires' Row closure after backlash over speeding cyclist danger claims

The UK’s most expensive road could soon reopen to the public following a backlash after it was shut over claims speeding cyclists were causing safety issues.

The Crown Estate, which owns Kensington Palace Gardens, on Thursday said it hopes the installation of “temporary measures” will allow for the “safe controlled reopening” of the street, known as Billionaires’ Row.

The road, which sits next to Kensington Palace and is where Formula 1 heiress Tamara Ecclestone, ex-Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Princess Haya of Jordan own homes, was closed to the public “indefinitely” last week.

It also contains a number of high-profile foreign embassies, including those of Russia and Israel.

In a letter seen by the Standard, the Crown Estate argued that it would “rather not” restrict public access to the crucial route from Notting Hill Gate to Kensington High Street, but a “review of continuing cycling and pedestrian safety incidents” had forced its hand.

It said there had been several near misses and incidents, some of which had resulted in cyclists being injured.

But a cross-party political campaign, in Kensington and Bayswater which is a hotly-contested seat in the capital at the election, piled pressure on the estate to reopen the road.

Labour parliamentary candidate Joe Powell said: “The Crown Estate clearly do not understand the strength of local feeling on their high-handed and unneighbourly decision to close the road.

“They are choking off an established access route, and sending a strong message to local residents that they simply don’t care. I urge them to do the right thing and reopen the road this week.”


Conservative parliamentary candidate Felicity Buchan also began a petition and asked the Crown Estate to reconsider its decision.

Cars are prohibited from using the road, where houses sell for an average of £35million, but cyclists and pedestrians have previously been permitted full access.

Both ends of the private avenue have gates and checkpoints with armed guards.

Kensington and Chelsea Council said it was not consulted before the closure.

A spokesman said: “The council was very disappointed to learn that the Crown Estate has taken the decision to close Kensington Palace Gardens to pedestrians and cyclists, without any prior consultation with us.

“The closure of Kensington Palace Gardens removes a much-valued and largely traffic-free link for people walking and cycling between Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street.

“In addition, the closure of part of the pedestrian link from Kensington Church Street to Kensington Palace Gardens has removed an important connection to Kensington Gardens for Kensington residents.”