Billionaire closes main road in South Kensington for garden work | The super-rich

Richard Caring, the billionaire owner of the famous Ivy hotspot restaurant and private members club Annabel’s, has won permission to close a main road in South Kensington, central London, in order to plant dozens of trees on the plot of his £40million. castle.

Caring, who has amassed a personal fortune estimated at over £1billion from his club and restaurant empire, which also includes the Sexy Fish in Mayfair, has been granted council permission to close part of Onslow Square for two weeks to install a crane to transport mature trees to a row of neighboring townhouses.

David Erb, who lives in Onslow Square in a property overlooking Caring’s mansion, said it was outrageous that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was “acquiescing to the whims of a billionaire who wants a beautiful garden”.

“It is absolutely wrong that a single man, with an enormous fortune, can disrupt the lives of thousands of people,” Erb, a software developer, told the Guardian as one of the trees, whose weight is estimated more than five tons, was lifted above his house. “They often close the sidewalk too and it starts to feel a bit like living behind a barricade.”

A large crane lifts trees above the houses in Onslow Square. Photography: Antonio Olmos / The Observer

The road closure is the latest chapter in a five-year battle between Caring and some of the roughly 500 people who live in properties adjacent to his Park House mansion.

The designs for the house, which replaces a 19th-century cottage previously owned by German industrial heir Gert-Rudolf Flick, features a large two-story basement.

The basement alone contains a swimming pool (which can be transformed into a ballroom), a beauty treatment room, a hammam and a store for summer clothes, according to the plans filed with the town hall.

The council has already issued an enforcement notice to Caring ordering it to remove three “incongruous and overbearing” windows, which it says “do not preserve the character and appearance” of the conservation area.

A view of Richard Caring's house from a nearby building.
A view of Richard Caring’s house from a nearby building. Photography: Antonio Olmos / The Observer

He said he took violations of planning regulations ‘very seriously’ and had given Caring six months to comply. A spokesperson said the council “encourages[s] residents to report any concerns they may have so that we can work with property owners to investigate and resolve issues quickly.”

Onslow Square, which connects South Kensington tube station to Fulham Road, is used by bus routes 14, 49, 345 and 414, all of which have been diverted. The road is also an important thoroughfare for ambulances transporting patients to Royal Marsden, Chelsea and Westminster hospitals. The emergency services had to be informed of the closure.

A council spokesman said it ‘cannot unreasonably deny’ requests for road closures, but added that it appreciated the inconvenience caused.

The council said it had asked Caring to delay the road closure until August to minimize disruption to neighbors and emergency services.

Caring Richard and Patricia
Richard and Patricia Caring. Photography: David M Benett/Getty Images

“Anyone can ask us for a road closure, from residents wanting to transport heavy objects home to utility companies carrying out repairs and upgrades,” the spokesperson said. “While we cannot unreasonably refuse these requests, we understand that closures can be inconvenient and are doing our best to minimize any disruption.

“In this case, we announced the closure in local media and on our website several weeks in advance and the requestor personally delivered a letter to over 600 homes in the area. We also encouraged the applicant to carry out the work during school holidays so as not to disrupt school traffic and informed Transport for London and the emergency services of the planned closure.

Regarding the planning rule breach, which was identified by neighbors in May, the council said: “The planning rules exist to protect neighbourhoods. We take infractions very seriously and work with property owners to investigate and resolve issues quickly.

“We have issued an enforcement notice in this case and this gives the developer six months from the date of issue to alter their property to comply with the planning permission.”

Flick described the house as “almost a country house in the middle of London”.

Several spokespersons for Caring and his company Caprice Holdings did not respond to requests for comment.

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