Calls to reopen Billionaires' Row 'immediately' after speeding cyclists force closure

A campaign to “immediately” reopen London’s most expensive street to the public has been launched after it was shut indefinitely because of complaints about speeding cyclists.

Kensington Palace Gardens – dubbed Billionaires’ Row - was closed for pedestrians and cyclists last week after reports of several “near misses”.

The local Labour candidate has branded the closure “selfish and spiteful”. Conservative candidate Felicity Buchan, who is hoping to hold onto the seat, has echoed calls for the road to reopen.

The Crown Estate, which owns the street, shut it to pedestrians and cyclists on Wednesday following an outcry from wealthy residents and diplomats about bikes whizzing down it.

Joe Powell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Kensington & Bayswater, has launched a petition to reopen the “crucial connection” between Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street, which is used by thousands of people every day.

In a letter to the Crown Estate, he wrote: “Kensington Palace Gardens is a crucial north-south thoroughfare for local residents and visitors.

“The Borough of Kensington & Chelsea ranks bottom for healthy and safe streets in Inner London, making the road even more important to pedestrians and cyclists.

“Your decision will impact thousands of people a day, and sets a dangerous precedent of decisions being taken without consultation with your neighbours and the local community who will rightly view this as a selfish and spiteful act.

“I urge the Board of Directors, and leadership team, to immediately re-open the road.”

Conservative Ms Buchan said: “I’m calling on the Crown Estate to reopen Kensington Palace Gardens to pedestrians and cyclists. This is an important thoroughfare used by so many Kensington pedestrians and cyclists.”

“I have reached out to the Crown Estate and launched a petition to call for the reopening,” she added. Buchan has launched a separate petition from Powell’s.

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

Formula 1 heiress Tamara Ecclestone, ex-Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, Princess Haya of Jordan and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal all have properties there.

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

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

However the Crown Estate stressed to the Standard that the public closure was down to safety rather than security concerns.