Britain’s Most Divided Street, Complete With It’s Own Berlin Wall.

Discussion in 'UK Property' started by fionadavies, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. fionadavies

    fionadavies New Member

    Portland Road in central London is one of the most exclusive addresses in the country. The road is lined with stylish boutiques, antique shops and art galleries and its houses are decorated in fine pastel colours. David Cameron resides near here along with other well-known celebrities. Most of the residents are well heeled as one boutique The Cross sells cashmere dressing gowns for a staggering £400 a time. Just a few doors down from The Cross is Julie’s restaurant, book a table here and you could find yourself seated next to a young Royal who like to dine on lobster risotto and herb crusted lamb here. Matt LeBlanc, Jason Donovan and Nicole Kidman all own homes nearby. The area is known as Notting Hill, which has the Julia Roberts film named after it, and Kate Moss has only just moved out after being a resident for years. But even though you may spot a number of celebrities strolling along its streets at any time of the day, it is also the most divided street in this country. At one end of the street are the celebrities, wealthy bankers, lawyers and City businessmen but just 600 yards to the other end of the street lays Winterbourne House and Nottingwood House. These are two specially built Thirties estates set behind big black gates which house some of the most socially deprived people in London.

    The residents on the estate are separated not only by the big black gates but also by a traffic safety barrier, which has become known locally as London’s own Berlin Wall. The house prices also reflect this. At one end of Portland Road, namely number 22, the five bedroom semi-detached house sold for £6million. At the other end of the road in Winterbourne House a flat sold for just £244,000. Whilst many people would regard this property price as reflective of the country’s average, for central London it is far more modest. Especially lying side by side with the wealthier end of the street. It is a fact that within the street the wealthiest 5% of London lives side by side with the poorest 5% of London.

    Portland Road was initially built on a strip of wasteland during the 1850’s housing boom. The road was between the exclusive mansions of Notting Hill’s Ladbroke Estate, mainly made of Georgian and Victorian design. This was situated to the east and to the west was the Norland Estate, which was known as the “piggeries and potteries” because it was where London’s most squalid gypsy camp was housed. Even a colour coded poverty map of London created in 1886 shows the division. The Ladbroke Estate was coloured in yellow which signified an “upper-middle class, servant-keeping class” and the west of the Estate was depicted in black, described as “deep and dark a type as anywhere in London” which housed the “lowest class of labourers, street sellers, loafers and criminals. Their life if the life of savages.”

    In 1975 the council decided to erect the traffic barrier so that residents of Holland Park, an exclusive address which houses Simon Cowell, would feel more secure in their magnificent homes. Once this barrier was installed the house prices in the more exclusive areas soared and the wealthy moved in quickly. In contrast to the wealthy the residents of the council estate at the other end feel as alienated from their wealthier neighbours as the residents of East Berlin did before the fall of the Wall in 1989.

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