London billionaires are dealing with their own housing crisis, as the capital’s mansions are too small, revealed property experts.
London homes the highest amount of billionaires in the world, with about 140 owning a house in the city. This is much more than New York at 103, Moscow at 85, Hong Kong at 82 and just 33 in Paris.
But this problem is worlds away from the struggle many Londoners experience with spiralling house prices and rents.
The super-rich are looking for fully furnished, ready to move into houses, but properties in London are tiny compared to mansions in some billionaires’ home countries.
They are now knocking individual houses together, restoring and extending mansions, and turning commercial properties into family homes.
Beauchamp Estates has published its Ultra Prime Barometer, a study on billionaires and their housing habits.
Beauchamp’s Gary Hersham says: “London commentators often forget that in Russia, the Ukraine and Middle East the homes of the super-rich are massive compared to traditional London homes. Palatial properties in places like Ukraine, Qatar and Saudi Arabia can be up to 150,000 sq. ft. in size.
“So an 8,000 sq. ft. London townhouse is like a broom cupboard when compared to super-rich palaces elsewhere on the globe. This is why some extremely adroit super-rich vendors are creating a new level in the London property market and palaces that are a size level above anything currently for sale in the marketplace.
“They know that, like a coveted painting, the rarity value and quality of such a property will ensure that it holds and increases in value. There will always be super-rich buyers available for truly unique trophy mansions at this top 1% of the London housing market.”
Properties currently under construction or under the planning system include 1-3 Cornwall Terrace, Cambridge House, Witanhurst and 14 Princes Gate.
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser of Qatar acquired Cornwall Terrace for her son, the current Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The three homes cost a total of £120m and are now being transformed into a single home.
However, the plans were initially delayed for going against Westminster Council’s policy of increasing the amount of homes in the borough. Revised plans are currently going through planning.
Witanhurst in Highgate will be worth a huge £300m when it is completed. It will also be the capital’s second largest home, after Buckingham Palace. It is thought that a Russian billionaire bought it in 2008.
14 Princes Gate was the childhood home of John F. Kennedy and has been bought by the Saudi royal family, who will turn it into another £300m property.
Cambridge House was purchased by Motcomb Estates in 2011 and in April 2013 the firm had plans approved to transform it into a 60,600 sq. ft. home worth £250m. The mansion will have 48 rooms, a 35,000-bottle wine cellar and an underground swimming pool.
Hersham continues: “The reason why these grand former embassy buildings like 1-3 Cornwall Terrace and 14 Princes Gate are being converted back to their original residential use, and also being enlarged into homes providing over 30,000 sq. ft. of living space, is that in both cases, quite simply there isn’t anything available on the marketplace at this size in London.
“Owners are creating their own marketplace and converting opulent buildings into new palatial private homes.
“With their huge resources, the super-rich building new mega-palaces in London can afford to be patient; they employ planning consultants, lawyers, architects and contractors to deal with the frustrations of London’s complex planning system.
“An ordinary Londoner planning an extension to their home can be driven mad by planning paperwork, red tape and delays. Not the super-rich, they can employ an army of consultants to suck up any frustration.”1