The bulldozing of Billionaires’ Row: How sprawling mansions on one of London’s most expensive streets are being replaced with flats and retirement homes
- EXCLUSIVE: Billionaires’ Row is about to change forever with many mansions being bought
This building site on London’s ‘Billionaires’ Row’ is where a sprawling mansion once stood before it was demolished to make way for a luxury apartment block.
It is one of 66 luxury properties long The Bishops Avenue in northwest London feted for years as the country’s most expensive road to buy a house, where the country’s wealthiest people have called home including the Sultan of Brunei, Justin Bieber and Saudi royals.
But the landscape of Billionaires’ Row is about to change forever with many of these mansions being bought up by property developers to the replace the mansions with blocks of flats and retirement homes.
Parts of London’s poshest avenue now resemble a busy building site with mud and water scarring it as workers in boots and high vis jackets scurry around while large construction vehicles shudder along it, leaving its well-heeled residents annoyed.
Jenny, who only gave her first name, has been living on The Bishops Avenue for 20 years.
This building site on London ‘s ‘Billionaires’ Row’ is where a sprawling mansion once stood before it was demolished to make way for a luxury apartment block
This property was once a sprawling mansion on one of the wealthiest streets in the country, but now a new block of flats is being built there
It is one of 66 luxury properties long The Bishops Avenue in northwest London feted for years as the country’s most expensive road to buy a house, where the country’s wealthiest people have called home including the Sultan of Brunei , Justin Bieber and Saudi royals
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The 66-house street has been home to some of the world’s most wealthy, including Heather Mills and Sir Billy Butlin – founder of the holiday camps
The Bishops Avenue is a bizarre mix of the upmarket and the shabby with a spectrum of houses (pictured: Oak Lodge which was destroyed in a fire last year)
Firefighters hosing the blaze at Oak Lodge on The Bishops Avenue in East Finchley which caught fire in June last year
Emergency services rushed to the wealthy street at 3.45am on June 6 last year and tackled the house fire
The cause of a fire at an £18m mansion Oak Lodge on London’s ‘Billionaires Row’ (pictured before the fire) in Hampstead remains a mystery as the building was too badly damaged, investigators said last year
The landscape of Billionaires’ Row is about to change forever with many of these mansions being bought up by property developers
The Bishops Avenue in northwest London was feted for years as the country’s most expensive road to buy a house
The Buxmead development saw four homes demolished on the Hampstead Heath end of The Bishops avenue, to be replaced by an apartment complex with 16 self-contained flats
She told MailOnline she is upset over the changing landscape of the road she has called home for two decades. She said: ‘It’s disgusting what’s happening. It’s mainly flats that are being built and while they aren’t cheap, it has changed the area and brought in a different type of resident. The Bishops Avenue is not as exclusive as it used to be.’
‘The whole area has become a mess,’ said another. ‘First, we had a problem with abandoned homes and now we’ve got builders everywhere. There’s mud all over the road and it’s become very noisy.’
Property developer Valourn is currently working on a £200million development to transform the Oak Lodge mansion, damaged in a fire last year, into a block of 30 flats.
The cause of a fire at the disused £18million Oak Lodge remains a mystery as the building was too badly damaged, investigators said.
Oak Lodge was the subject of a planning dispute in 2018 when developers wanted to knock it down and build a huge 18-apartment Beverly Hills-style block for the mega-rich.
It was sold in the same year for £18million to a different holding company 54 Bishops Avenue Limited, under architectural firm Pilbrow and Partners, with Bahraini businessman Mohammed Mahdi al Tajir listed as director.
Two years later, fresh plans for the site were approved by Barnet Council that would see the listed building, which dates back to 1927, renovated and split into two homes instead of being knocked down.
This planning permission included a total of 30 individual new homes on the site that was approved on 28 February 2020.
Take a stroll down The Bishops Avenue and it is a bizarre mix of the upmarket and the shabby, with some homes completely abandoned, others in pristine condition and others undergoing major redevelopment.
One such development, called ‘Kiran’s Villa,’ visited by MailOnline has come to epitomise the huge changes The Bishops Avenue is undergoing.
A six-bedroom mansion where a wealthy businessman and his family lived stood on the spot but was demolished in March within three weeks after being purchased by a developer for £6 million.
One seven bedroom flat in Buxmead is currently on the market for 13.4 million
Potential owners are advised that the apartment is within easy access of London’s West End, the City and Knightsbridge
The new owner is unlikely to be travelling by the Northern Line, but Heathrow, Luton and City airports are all within reach, as are RAF Northolt, Biggin Hill and Farnborough for those who no longer fly commercial
There is 987 years left on the lease, according to selling agents Savills, although, the service charge and ground rent are yet to be confirmed
It is difficult to establish who exactly owns the luxury mansions along The Bishops Avenue
A group of students snuck into an abandoned mansion on Bishops Avenue, also known as Billionaire’s Row in London – one of the wealthiest streets in the world
The Georgian mansion, known as ‘The Towers’ was built in the 1970’s and has reportedly been abandoned for over a decade
The main entrance hall and the stairwell in The Towers mansion on The Bishops Avenue
Work is now underway to replace it with eight luxury flats with construction set to be completed next April.
Despite their eye-watering cost, many homes along The Bishops Avenue have clearly seen better days.
Some, such as The Towers, an imposing Georgian property which previously belonged to the Saudi royal family is completely abandoned and falling apart, with mould and weeds dominating the once luxurious home.
It is set to be converted into a block of upmarket flats.
Student ‘urban explorers’ snuck into the dilapidated mansion last August. UCL student Gabriella Burt, 20, decided to explore one such mansion with friends, and posted videos to TikTok documenting her expedition.
The site of the property, which is known by locals as ‘The Towers’ and is thought to have been abandoned for decades, was first owned by British actress and music hall legend Gracie Fields before it was knocked down in the 1970s.
An imposing property called Summer Palace previously belonged to steel magnate Laxmi Mittal but was sold in July 2011 for £35.7 million to an international businessman, who lives there with his family.
It is difficult to establish who exactly owns the mansions along The Bishops Avenue as most are registered in the names of shell companies based in tax havens like the Bahamas, Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
Many houses on the Bishops Avenue in Highgate stand empty ready for redevelopment
A six-bedroom mansion where a wealthy businessman and his family lived stood on the spot but was demolished in March within three weeks after being purchased by a developer for £6 million
Huge mansions that are empty for most of the year and neglected are no longer sustainable or attractive to buyers
Property developers have realised that there are huge profits to be made in the London area
It is estimated that by the time all the construction work on The Bishops Avenue has been completed there will be eight apartment blocks composed of around 600 dwellings
Trevor Abrahmsohn, founder of Glentree Estates which handles the majority of sales on The Bishops Avenue told MailOnline: ‘The headline names don’t live there anymore. The residents of the mansions are now mostly from an international background and a lot more discrete.
‘In the past, The Bishops Avenue was dominated by wealthy, absentee owners. These new developments are a chance for the pauper to live with the prince. But when I say ‘pauper’ what I mean is that you don’t have to be a mega billionaire to live there anymore. The new apartments that are being built are not cheap, with basic ones still costing just over £1 million, which is above the average price of a house in London.’
He added: ‘Huge mansions that are empty for most of the year and neglected is no longer sustainable or attractive to buyers. Property developers have realised that there are huge profits to be made in this desirable area.’
It is estimated that by the time all the construction work on The Bishops Avenue has been completed there will be eight apartment blocks composed of around 600 dwellings.
Buxmead, a development that has already opened is made up of three penthouses, six duplexes and eleven apartments set in a 2.5-acre site with private landscaped gardens.
Amenities include a 25-metre swimming pool with adjoining spa, hair dressing salon, games room, private cinema, bar, business centre and private dining room for residents to use for up to 18 guests.
There are a lot of big houses around along the avenue with lots of space and are a big draw
A lot of construction work is going on in the area which will lead to smaller but expensive homes
One the preserve of the rich, the area will change beyond recognition in the coming years
An apartment in the swanky block costs on average around £5 million.
The Developers of the ‘Kiran’s Villa’ project stand to make a hefty return on their initial outlay of £12.2 million for building the flats. Two on the top floor have already been sold for £3 million each while the others will cost £2.5 million, resulting in a combined £21 million once all have been purchased, and a £8.8 million profit.
Project Manager Simon Poole told MailOnline: ‘It’s been a complex project but it’s just one of many taking place along The Bishops Avenue. These apartments are not going to be affordable for the ordinary person but by the standards of this avenue, they’re relatively cheap.
‘There are a lot of big houses around here with lots of space. Many are empty or have been neglected and it’s an ideal situation for developers. I have never built such high-spec apartments before and there is already a lot of interest from buyers.’
Project Engineer Adhurim Tereziu added: ‘We’ve completed the groundwork and are now waiting for the brick layers to start. There will be 25 of them working on this site from next week. There are a lot of projects like this going on around here, which will lead to this area changing a lot over the next few years.’
It’s well-to-do residents maybe angry but The Bishop’s Avenue transformation has been good news for the teams of workers that are helping to create the new developments.
Catalina Lesa supervises a team of cleaners who are putting the finishes touches to a retirement home which is close to completion.
She said: ‘There are a lot of wealthy people around here and I’m sure they’re not too happy to be surrounded by flats and retirement homes. There’s a lot of construction work going on and I know it causes a lot of disruption, but we’ve not had any complaints because we never see any locals. They are too rich to speak to us.’
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