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Kensington & Chelsea plans further crackdown on mega-mansion conversions

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ondon’s wealthiest borough is seeking to crack down on multi-millionaires combining neighbouring properties to create vast mega-mansions

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea wants to bring in new planning rules banning residents from knocking down walls or tunnelling through adjoining homes.

The mega-mansion trend has been on the rise in recent years but councillors fear it is having an impact on local housing supply. Since 2018, 77 applications to link up multiple homes have been approved by the local authority.

Last August, singer Adele reportedly bought two Kensington homes next door to each other for a total of £11m, and spent another £2m turning them into her dream property.

Monsoon boss Peter Simon won planning approval in 2015 to connect five homes together in Chelsea to create a palatial home complete with underground swimming pool and wine cellar.

Meanwhile in Mayfair, billionaire businessman John Cauldwell has turned two Portland stone mansions into a £250m palace – thought to be the UK’s most expensive home with a 120-capacity ballroom, 15 bedrooms and eight floors.

Joining properties together is one of the few options available to wealthy buyers who want a super size period home, particularly in central London areas where most of the housing stock is centuries old.

As a result they can have an especially high resale value. A pair of stucco mansions in Regent’s Park currently on the market for £25 million.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most expensive borough in London, with 12 neighbourhoods where the average house price tops £1 million. On its priciest street, in Chelsea, homes cost £28.9 million, 105 times the UK average.

But Kensington and Chelsea council argues the major renovation projects embarked on by its super-rich residents are taking up too much of its housing stock, which is already in demand.

With the second highest population density in England and a high number of conservation areas and listed buildings, the council said it is getting harder to find room to build homes for the 3,200 people on its housing register.

Kim Taylor Smith, the council’s deputy lead member for planning, place and environment, said: ‘It needs to be done thoughtfully, protecting our unique collection of villages and towns as well as growing our borough. The individual identities of our high streets are what makes our borough the most liveable place in the city.”

The council has been trying for years to crack down on its mega-mansion problem. Back in 2015, it brought in a single-storey limit on basement excavations in a bid to stem the tide of so-called ‘iceberg homes’.

The policy attempts to limit impact on the environment and quality of life for residents which can be disrupted by noisy basement excavations, according to the council.

The latest move is part of the council’s draft New Local Plan which is currently under consultation until March 23.

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