The menu at Culford’s on Dovehouse Green will be extraordinarily expensive, even for the restaurant’s location on the King’s Road in Chelsea, west London. Alongside grilled seabass and steak au poivre are a selection of caviars, including 50g of beluga for £250.
The restaurant will also offer a good selection of the menu in pureed form – because Culford’s will be the dining hall of the world’s most expensive retirement home.
Apartments in the Auriens residence, which is being built on the site of what was Kensington and Chelsea council’s only local authority care home, cost a minimum of £3m for a 900 sq ft one bedroom flat rising to £10.5m for two bedroom “penthouses”. Residents will also be charged a minimum annual service charge of £16,344 – about double the state pension.
Emma Dent-Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, said the council’s decision to sell off the nursing home that stood on the site, was an act of “social cleansing of the elderly”.
“Thamesbrook [extra care home] was a place for everyone – those who had no money and those who had lots of money,” she said. “It was a very good and happy home, but it is being replaced by a beyond luxury complex that very few people can afford.”
Dent-Coad, whose constituency includes the Grenfell Tower site, said the project was indicative of Kensington council’s wider disregard for poor residents. “There is a crying need for more social and affordable housing in the borough, but what we’re getting is more homes for the super rich,” she said.
Local councillor Linda Wade said it was the “most appalling outrage” that the council sold off an “excellent home available for everyone regardless of funds [to replace it with] a home that only ageing oligarchs could afford”.
“Just as with Grenfell tower, it is another example of Kensington and Chelsea council’s crazy management not recognising or serving the needs of its residents,” said Wade, a Liberal Democrat councillor.
Wade said that if Thamesbrook had stayed open some of the older and most vulnerable Grenfell residents – who are still living in hotel rooms – could have been looked after in the home.
For the few who are able to afford it, residents of the 55 Auriens apartments are promised “the most luxurious of retirements”, with valet parking, pilates classes, a 15m swimming pool and separate “vitality pool”, and a private cinema.
There is also a reading room designed by David Linley (the furniture designer and nephew to the Queen) and gardens created by Chelsea Flower Show winner Andy Sturgeon. The rooms, which cost about £3,000 per sq to buy (more than the cost of some apartments in the Candy Brothers luxury One Hyde Park development), are designed by the company that fitted out Langham’s hotel.
Then there are the extras not included in the service fee, such as the in-house pet grooming salon which promises to cater “for every need from taking the dogs for daily walks in nearby parks such as Kensington Gardens or Battersea Park to providing a dog washing service if they return home with muddy paws”.
Also not included are nurses, who will be provided by Draycott Nursing at a cost of £40 per hour. Karen Mulville, co-founder of Auriens, conceded that the home is “very expensive” but said choosing to move into the development could be much more economical than staying at the family home and forking out for live-in carers.
“We are clear it is for a very niche market,” said Mulville, the wife of comedian Jimmy Mulville whose Hat Trick TV production company created Father Ted and Have I Got News For You? “It is a very small group, but we have had a huge amount of interest.”
Ten of the apartments, which are due to open in late 2019, have already been sold. Auriens has converted the former showroom of Bellville Sassoon, the couture label that dressed Diana Princess of Wales, near Sloane Square, into a mock apartment complete with circadian rhythm lighting and carefully positioned Fortnum & Mason groceries.
It is about as far removed from as one can imagine from Thamesbrook, the squat three-storey local authority care home that occupied the Dovehouse Street site until Kensington and Chelsea council sold it for development last spring. The council, which had reserves of more than £270m when the Grenfell fire tragedy happened last summer, said the £70m it made from the sale of Thamesbrook would be used to build 150 new homes for older residents.
The council did not answer questions about how many of the new old people homes had been built or how much of the windfall from the Thamesbrook sale had been spent on the project. The council had already committed to build 100 rooms for older people before it sold Thamesbrook, which was closed following an outbreak of Legionnaires disease in 2014. The council said all Thamesbrook residents were rehoused, but did not respond to questions about where they were sent.
Many of Thamesbrook residents had been moved there when the council closed another of its care homes, Edenham in the north of the borough. Dent-Coad said Edenham residents were “cruelly decanted” into Thamesbrook only to be shunted on again to care homes miles away when it closed.
Dent-Coad said dissenting councillors were unable to stop the development and instead residents “will get a huge lump of ugly building occupied by the super-rich”.
Mulville’s partner in the Auriens, which is being bankrolled by investment bank Investec, is Johnny Sanderson, a wealthy property developer who specialises in luxury homes for the super-rich. Sanderson’s latest scheme for 13 huge multimillion-pound homes overlooking Regent’s Park was rejected by Westminster council who told him to “wake-up” and realise that Londoners don’t need “oligarch mansions”.
The council said four of the homes Sanderson planned for York Terrace East – built by Regency architect John Nash – were “almost nine times bigger than a normal six-bedroom home”. The council’s planning chief, Richard Beddoe, said: “Our cities golden postcodes must not be used for Monopoly board-style investments to cater only for oligarchs and the most wealthy.”