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The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (often abbreviated to RBKC) is a central London borough of Royal borough status. It is an urban area and in the 2001 census it was the most densely populated local authority in the United Kingdom, with a population of 158,919 at 13,244 per square kilometre (the land area is approximately 12 square kilometres, making it the smallest of the London boroughs, excluding the City of London).
The borough is immediately to the west of the City of Westminster, which is at the heart of modern London and to the east of Hammersmith & Fulham, the borough contains a substantial number of city-centre facilities such as major museums and universities (in “Albertopolis”); department stores like Harrods, Peter Jones and Harvey Nichols; is home to the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest carnival; and several Embassies in Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Kensington Gardens. It contains many of the most exclusive residential districts in London, which are also some of the most expensive in the world.
The local authority is Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. The borough’s motto is Quam Bonum in Unum Habitare, which translates approximately as ‘How good it is to dwell in unity’.
The borough was created in 1965 from the former boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea. Kensington’s Royal Borough status was inherited by the new borough. The new borough was originally to be called just ‘Kensington’ – the inclusion of Chelsea was locally supported.
Within the borough there are several of London’s tourist attractions and landmarks:
• Brompton Oratory
• Earl’s Court
• Imperial College (part)
• Kensington High Street
• Kensington Palace
• King’s Road
• Ladbroke Grove
• Leighton House Museum
• Notting Hill Gate
• Olympia (part)
• Portobello Road
• Royal Hospital Chelsea
• Saatchi Gallery
• Sloane Street
• The Science Museum and The Natural History Museum
• Victoria & Albert Museum
Districts in Kensington and Chelsea
The borough includes:
• Bayswater (also partly in the City of Westminster)
• Belgravia (also partly in the City of Westminster)
• Earl’s Court
• Holland Park
• Kensal Town (also partly in the City of Westminster)
• Knightsbridge (also partly in the City of Westminster)
• Ladbroke Grove
• North Kensington
• Notting Hill
• South Kensington
• West Brompton
• West Kensington (also partly in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham)
• World’s End
The borough has 12 tube stations, on six of the 12 London Underground lines:
• Bakerloo line
• Central line
• Circle line
• District line
• Hammersmith & City line
• Piccadilly line
with stations at South Kensington, Gloucester Road, Kensington High Street, Earl’s Court, Sloane Square, West Brompton, Olympia, Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Latimer Road, Knightsbridge, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, and partly Kensal Green.
Chelsea (SW3, SW10 and partly SW1) has less Underground access than Kensington, the only station within Chelsea being Sloane Square. There are long-term plans for the Chelsea-Hackney line, with a station in the King’s Road near Chelsea Old Town Hall, and possibly another at Sloane Square. Its estimated completion is 2022.
National Rail and Overground
Paddington and Victoria are the nearest major railway termini, and National Rail stations in the borough are Kensington (Olympia) and West Brompton, and partly Kensal Green, all both served by the London Overground.
Many London bus routes pass through the borough, most of them along King’s Road, Fulham Road, Kensington High Street and Ladbroke Grove.
Possible new Crossrail station
The borough council is pushing for an additional Crossrail station in the north of the borough, at Kensal off Ladbroke Grove & Canal Way. A turn-back facility will have to be built not too far west of Paddington, and siting the turn-back at Kensal rather than next to Paddington would provide a frequent service, helping to regenerate the area. London Mayor Boris Johnson stated that a station would be added if it met three tests: it must not delay construction of Crossrail; it must not compromise performance of Crossrail or any other railway; and it must not increase Crossrail’s overall cost. In response, the borough council agreed to underwrite the projected £33 million cost of the station to the extent that section 106 payments from the promoters of property developments expected near the station do not reach this sum. The Council funded a consultancy study, which concluded that in many scenarios a Kensal station would not compromise Crossrail performance. TfL is conducting a feasibility study on the station. The project is supported by local MPs, the residents of the Borough, National Grid, retailers Sainsbury’s and Cath Kidston, and Jenny Jones (Green Party member of the London Assembly). It is also supported by the adjoining London Borough of Brent.