London's Kensington Palace Gardens is the most expensive address in the UK. Its vast mansions are a symbol of the growing gulf between ordinary people and the super-rich. Our reporter tries to meet the locals
It is unexpectedly complicated to write about Britain's most expensive street since its inhabitants, members of a super-rich elite, are not generally willing to give interviews to the Guardian. More problematic still is the hostility which the street's security guards display towards people walking along the road, writing things down in a notepad. Kensington Palace Gardens – where global plutocrats such as Roman Abramovich, Leonard Blavatnik and Lakshmi Mittal own stuccoed mansions, and where one house belonging to a Saudi prince is discreetly on sale (which I think means it isn't on any property websites) for around £100m – is regularly listed as the most expensive place to buy a house in London.
At first glance, there is nothing overtly ostentatious about this quiet road, where the average property was last year valued at around £41m, more than 165 times the value of the average UK home (£248,863). There are no yellow Lamborghinis or Hummers blasting music. The overwhelming impression is one of tasteful reserve, of glistening cream paint and shining green and black railings – until you pause to examine the enormous heft of the houses: vast, detached palaces, with too many windows to count, on a scale dwarfing other private homes in London.