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Banning cyclists and pedestrians from Britain's "most expensive street" slammed "a selfish and spiteful act" by Labour candidate standing for election in the area

The Crown Estate claimed the decision was made to "prioritise safety and wellbeing" after complaints about "dangerous" cyclists causing "near misses" and putting residents and diplomats "at risk"...

Banning cyclists and pedestrians from Kensington Palace Gardens — the London street dubbed Billionaires' Row and Britain's "most expensive street" thanks to its £35 million average house price — in a move claimed to be about avoiding "near misses" with dangerous cyclists, has been slammed as "selfish and spiteful" by a Labour candidate standing at the general election.

On Friday it emerged that the Crown Estate had closed the half-mile-long tree-lined avenue near Hyde Park to pedestrians and cyclists — the street home to several foreign embassies, such as those of Russia and Israel, as well as high-value private properties belonging to former Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and Princess Haya of Jordan.

The decision was made, the Crown Estate claimed, due to concerns about "speeding" cyclists using the route as a cut-through and causing several complaints of "near misses" with residents and diplomats.

However, Joe Powell, the Labour parliamentary candidate in Kensington & Bayswayer has now launched a petition calling for the "crucial, safe connection between Notting Hill Gate and Kensington High Street" used by "thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every day" to be reopened.

"I'm calling on The Crown Estate to urgently reopen Kensington Palace Gardens to pedestrians and cyclists after they decided to close the road," he explained. "Kensington & Chelsea is already ranked the worst inner London borough for active travel by the Healthy Streets coalition. The last thing we need with a council and MP with a track record of blocking any initiatives to make our streets safer is one of the few safe roads for pedestrians and cyclists to be closed."

> Campaigners lose High Court case against council over "premature" cycle lane removal on Kensington High Street

The street has been closed to motorists for some time and has armed guards stationed at either end. However, until last week, it was accessible to those making walking, cycling or wheeling journeys, the Evening Standard first reporting the closure and the Crown Estate's insistence it is "due to safety concerns".

The Crown Estate added that the road closure is only temporary while "we review a long-term solution" and a decision made on public access.

The Standard has also reported that the ban on pedestrians as well as cyclists comes after fears were raised that security guards would be forced to deal with "disgruntled" cyclists who would instead wish to walk their bike down the street, or lead to those riding hire bikes to leave them outside the gate on the public path.

Back in 2016, plans to make Kensington Palace Gardens one of London's cycling Quietways – signposted routes on quiet back streets designed to offer a calmer and safer network for people on bikes – were scrapped following residents expressing fears that the use of the road by "the masses" would compromise security and "cede its exclusivity".

> Locals block Quietway on exclusive London private road

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council and Transport for London received 15 responses to the consultation on the proposed Quietway, including "several" respondents who claimed that it would "pose security risks, unspecified".

One resident told the consultation: "The residents on this private road should not be responsible for the use of the masses. Open use of this private roadway by the masses will cede its exclusivity and surrender its security."

"Those who already use the cut-through... are oblivious to the dismount notices and feel the right to pedal through, causing pedestrians to move and young mums with buggies to move out of the way," another added.

"This is annoying to all, residents and visitors alike, we pay for the upkeep of this private road… in our high council tax and expect to keep the standards of privacy this brings us."

One person even argued that cyclists should be prevented from using the road entirely, while another wrote that there were "far too many cyclists on the roadway as it is" while calling for "a blanket ban". Eight years on that action has now come to pass.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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19 comments

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OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
0 likes

It does sound a bit arrogant to close the road to cyclsits and pedestrians. But other routes are available I have to say.....

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Rendel Harris replied to OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
3 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

It does sound a bit arrogant to close the road to cyclsits and pedestrians. But other routes are available I have to say.....

They are and I use them regularly – as I think I said below I actually avoid KPG because of the rotten driving of people with diplomatic plates who know they can't get into trouble - but for inexperienced or nervous riders it was a very useful quiet route in a borough which notoriously doesn't have a single yard of protected cycle infrastructure on its own roads (there is some on TfL-controlled roads but it often links to nowhere because RKBC won't play ball).

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Legin | 1 month ago
3 likes

As I'm getting older I'm supposed to become more "right wing", unfortunatley I've never quite fitted the mold and I appear to be going the other way. So I'm hopeful that young people will take to the streets and overturn the status quo. The super wealthy are generally leeches and parasites on society and nobody should kowtow to them.

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hawkinspeter replied to Legin | 1 month ago
2 likes
Legin wrote:

As I'm getting older I'm supposed to become more "right wing", unfortunatley I've never quite fitted the mold and I appear to be going the other way. So I'm hopeful that young people will take to the streets and overturn the status quo. The super wealthy are generally leeches and parasites on society and nobody should kowtow to them.

I think it's only people with a lack of empathy that become more right wing as they age

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

I think it's only people with a lack of empathy pensions that become more right wing as they age

Better?

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
5 likes

"The residents on this private road should not be responsible for the use of the masses. Open use of this private roadway by the masses will cede its exclusivity and surrender its security."

Nutshell.

If the residents are so concerned about safety, the first thing they would ban is cars, but they haven't, so whatever their concerns are, safety isn't one of them.

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Rome73 | 1 month ago
3 likes

Up where I live in Norf Lahndon residents have tried the same trick in parts of Highgate and Hampstead - close the road the cyclists. One particularly nice road that runs from Highgate alongside Hampstead Heath and has a barrier to stop cars cutting through is very popular with cyclists - for obvious reasons. During covid there was a concerted attempt to block cyclists too. I'm not sure why they didn't manage - the road is private so presumably residents can do what they want. Perhaps Camden council wouldn't give them permission. Now there are just some petty signs warning cyclist to not exceed 10mph. Which is difficult going up to Highgate as it is a very steep hill. 

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Velophaart_95 | 1 month ago
6 likes

If anything sums up the state of this country, then this is it.........And the excuse of 'safety grounds' is utter bollocks.

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ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
9 likes

In a rational society, this would be public land, managed democratically. Not by toadies and toffs on behelf of the royals that were gifted the land to tempt them over from Holland or Germany, because the biggest concern of the political class at the time was to ensure a protestant head of state. 100% of the profits would go into the public purse.

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Jem PT | 1 month ago
9 likes

It is ridiculous to close this road on 'safety grounds'.

This is part of my commute when it's dark (when adjacent Kensington Gardens is closed). The road is no through road so virtually no traffic - just residents, of which there are few. There are wide pavements and not that many cyclists use the road anyway.

This is nothing to do with safety, but everything to do with keeping the hoi-polloi out of their private road. 

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henryb | 1 month ago
5 likes

There are no "young mums with buggies" on that road

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ubercurmudgeon replied to henryb | 1 month ago
1 like

But there might be a few "young wives with mobility scooters" taking their ancient billionaire husbands for a daily airing-out. Does Rupert Murdoch have a house on that street, by any chance?

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Cyclo1964 | 1 month ago
2 likes

Is that an oxymoron we pay for the up keep of this private road in our high council tax 🤷 I thought if it was a private road then you pay a management fee ? 

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brooksby replied to Cyclo1964 | 1 month ago
0 likes

The road is owned (so presumably also maintained?) by the Crown Estate, which I think is pretty much financially self sustaining.

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Geordiepeddeler replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
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And where do you think the majority of the cash that maintains the crown estate? If you don't know it's from your taxes, you are more naive then you are letting on.

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brooksby replied to Geordiepeddeler | 1 month ago
1 like

The Crown Estates is an ENORMOUS portfolio of property which is garnered from the assets of every person who dies intestate and of every limited company which is dissolved while still holding assets (monies or otherwise).

That doesn't make it any better, but AFAICS (IANAL) it isn't funded from our taxes.  Possibly the only thing to do with the Royals which isn't…

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Rendel Harris replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
5 likes

It may not be funded directly by our taxes but it is funded from monies that should be coming into the public purse: Tony Blair's government ceded the Crown Estate the right to sell or lease plots of the seabed for mineral exploitation and for wind/wave farms in 2004, something they absolutely did not have to do. Since then the crown estates have made an estimated £5 billion from the deal, money that should have gone to the Treasury.

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OnYerBike replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
1 like

I thought The Crown Estate's profits do go to the Treasury?

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Rendel Harris replied to OnYerBike | 1 month ago
6 likes
OnYerBike wrote:

I thought The Crown Estate's profits do go to the Treasury?

They do but the Treasury then gives 25% back to the monarch. That was another Blair innovation: the Civil List was agreed by Charles II because he couldn't cope with his mountain of debt, so he signed over all the profit from the Crown Estate, out of which the Treasury would pay the civil list. The modern royal family weren't happy about this as it looked like a handout from the state, so they renegotiated for a percentage of the Crown Estate to replace the Civil List, with the money going directly to the ruling monarch who then decides how much to share out amongst the other members of the family. The upshot has been that the monarchy has received massively more money than they were getting before: the Civil List was set at £13.6 million when it was finally abolished in 2011 (Blair having laid the groundwork) and replaced with the Soverign Grant. Last year (2022/23) the crown estate made £442 million profit, 25% of which was returned to the king. Even allowing for inflation £110 million and change is rather more than £13.6 million. To be fair (through gritted teeth) Charles has asked that this year's Sovereign Grant should be reduced to 12% so that the Treasury, rather than himself, will get the profits from the £1 billion worth of windfarm leases they sold last year, but if the profits remain the same it's still going to be rather a lot more than he would've been getting from the Civil List.

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