Multi-millionaires fighting a five-year feud over their gated community have won the right to segregate themselves from their neighbours.

The dispute over the 1.5m high fabricated-steel barrier in Coombe Park private estate, opened by an access code, began in 2008 after residents of the exclusive estate erected it to limit access to their end of the road.

Famous residents include comedian Jimmy Tarbuck and former tennis champion Annabel Croft, and last year one property sold for £5.75m.

Home owners in the publicly-owned part of Coombe Park feared the creation of a Los Angeles-style gated community.

Opposing lawyers have fought over the issue since Kingston Council told Coombe Park Limited (CPL) to tear the gate down in May 2009 because it was built on the public section of the road.

However, councillors admitted defeat last week because of the dispute’s spiralling costs, and voted to enter into an agreement with CPL rather than risk £100,000 of taxpayers’ money by going to the High Court.

Dr Robin Tillett, a Coombe Park resident who campaigned against the gate, said: “I think the council has let us down.

“They didn’t follow through properly with the whole issue and it’s going to be a complete disaster because they are going to keep the gates, and next gates will be going up everywhere.

“If they had acted properly at the start and put an injunction on them then this wouldn’t have happened, which is why we have got to where we are.”

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Patrick Codd said there was no other way forward, despite his fears of a divided community.

He said: “Unfortunately we were in a situation when we were going to High Court to talk about a few feet of land. It would have been difficult because there is no guide. This is something very very difficult to prove.

“I am opposed to gated communities, they breed fear of crime and they are antisocial. I think it’s a great shame.

“I have held this up for as long as I can; I am totally opposed to the erection of gates.”

Coombe Park Limited refused to comment.

- 2006 – Coombe Park Limited (CPL) applies for planning permission for fencing and security gates. Application rejected, CPL appeal and again rejected.

- January 2008 – CPL tell Kingston Council it plans to erect the gate on grounds of security and stopping speeding.

- July 2008 – Council unearth a historical document showing the public highway went “850ft or thereabout” from the junction with Kingston Hill. Residents are adamant the gate was 18ft into public land.

- Autumn 2008 – Gate posts erected.

- April 2009 – Gates erected across the carriageway and footway in Coombe Park between Ellington Lodge and Aulion.

- May 2009 – Councillors vote to take action to remove the gates.

- October 2010 – Council’s legal team starts negotiations with CPL to end the dispute. q March 2011 – Maldens and Coombe neighbourhood committee agreed settlement allowing the gates to remain.