Kensington and Chelsea – The land of the ‘have-a-lots’ and the ‘have-nothing-at-alls’; an example of a contrast too far
The mere mention of the area of Kensington and Chelsea brings all sorts of connotations: One thinks of the Albert Hall and Hyde Park, Harrods and Harvey Nicks and one imagines affluence and culture. Here is an area that one associates with a certain kind of genteel elegance and one where both dowager duchesses and an educated, international community has long lived in harmony. Sadly, however, the apple cart has tipped and the area has descended to become a place where homeless people shiver on the streets whilst multi-million pound mansions lay rotting. This is an area that has had its soul ripped from its very being and this is an area that has fast become nothing but a money park with a hidden edge.
The cause of this undoubtedly unwelcome change chiefly can be laid at the door of foreign ‘High Net Worth’ (HNW) investors – individuals and corporations who’ve brought ‘Home-aggedon’ to the Royal Borough by snapping up buildings that were once filled with families for crazy sums – and greedy landlords focused on kicking out local businesses in favour of high-paying, trophy tenants. Where once prosperous operations, such as La Brasserie on Brompton Cross, traded for nearly fifty years, are now empty units and outside them sit homeless people begging for scraps.
Yes, there are ‘fake homeless’, but the problem is real and beneath the surface one also finds what can be termed the ‘hidden homeless’. These ‘have-nots’ and ‘have-nothing-at-alls’ sit in Pret stores and mind their own business. They cause no trouble but have been let down by the system. You’d be surprised how many such people there are in the Royal Borough and you should realise one thing: Us mere non-HNW mortals are just one pay cheque away from joining them.
Pictured top: A homeless man in Pelham Street; he ‘lives’ just across the road from the £105 million home of billionaire Professor ‘Muck’ Flick.