Billionaires’ Row

London

Property Description

At Hampstead Heath in North London lies Kenwood House. Constructed across the 17th and 18th centuries, the house now stands as a symbol of traditional British elite culture. However, only across the road lies the enormous manors built by a new elite class, decaying in a state of neglect. Nicknamed Billionaires Row, this busy road is lined with sprawling mansions complete with towering gates and maze-like gardens. Considered to be one of the wealthiest streets in the world, some of the properties are selling for as much as £65 million pounds. With their vast land often being worth far more than the property alone, many of the houses are owned by foreign investors and left uninhabited, with around twenty properties standing entirely derelict.
In the late 1970s, many of the houses were built in a range of grand styles inspired by Continental neoclassical designs and old English country houses such as Kenwood. Under Thatchers government in the early 80s, the City saw rapid economic growth and mobility with the emergence of yuppie culture. Whilst prosperous individuals may have been the original buyers of these properties, their vast size would have been too excessive to practically live in for long – being closer to hotels than homes.

The houses stand in varied states and conditions, some crumbling at surface level but internally pristine as if the owners had simply walked out one day, whilst others are in an advanced state of dereliction exposed to the elements and unwelcome visitors. Some of the secured homes await sale like glass bubbles complete with furniture unchanged in decades. Other properties have burst, torn wide open despite security dog patrols every three hours, with their condition deteriorating by the day. Swimming pools, tennis courts, and a multitude of ornaments lie in the grounds of these mansions, but they have been left to drain and moss over as nature reclaims.
The Bishops Avenue has attracted a lot of controversy in the midst of Britain’s housing crisis. These huge plots are being reserved as bullion by investors overseas rather than being used for what they are – as residences. Whilst it has been debated if some should be provided to the homeless, squatters have seized some properties illegally. What was once the ultimate place to live in London has now become a street of contrasts, with brand new sparkling halls standing alongside the sordid rejected ruins of the capital’s economic boom. Neighbouring roads have taken the limelight, immaculate and enclosed by private security checkpoints. With little prospects of purpose in sight, what will become of the abandoned mansions of London? For how long can their pillars hold?

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