Four years ago a group of people living in Kensington formed the Kensington Residents Association. They are all long-time residents of Kensington and are fed up with what has happened to their neighbourhood. You won’t find a name or a picture of anyone in the group. They are all too frightened to go public. The violent crime, drug dealing neighbours and prostitution keeps them anonymous. One resident spoke of being awoken by gangs of men in balaclavas attacking each other outside her home. Another talked about having to explain prostitution to her young children because it is so open on the streets of Kensington. Garbage dumping, or tipping, is out of control and no one seems to be doing anything about it. The alleys are full of discarded furniture and garbage. In their opinion, the rise of HMOs in their beloved neighbourhood is the root of the problem. A member of the Residents Association stated that if you change a community it changes everything that’s there. They all agree that, because of the huge turnover of single-family homes into HMOs, Kensington has lost its sense of community. With HMOs come transient residents how just don’t care about the community. These temporary residents are not committed to the neighbourhood. They live in Kensington for the cheap rent and the lack of restrictions and enforced rules. The Association has met with council but agree that nothing has been done. A resident in the group added: The big change is the change in property ownership, there are very few homeowners now, no families – there are examples of planning being flouted all over the place.Property developers are buying houses cheap, turning them into 6-bed houses, holiday lets or student housing. He continued: If you change a community it changes everything that’s there – it changes the shops, the facilities everywhere. He says that If you walk down the high street in Kensington now, it actually reflects the community – you can get a tattoo but you can’t get a stamp.Frustration is running high and many families have moved out of Kensington because they don’t like the deterioration of their community. For Sale signs are everywhere but selling ones’ home is very difficult now due to the degradation of the area. Even the infrastructure is failing, with drains collapsing and masses of fly-tipping everywhere. Liverpool Council’s cabinet member for the environment, Steve Munby, says he totally understands the Association’s feelings. He stated that ͞…there is a complex combination of problems in the area which are really tricky to tackle. He admits that a lot of the issues are to do with houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) in Kensington. Apparently, council is proposing ideas for dealing with this issue. The long-time residents aren’t holding their breath for these proposals to turn their neighbourhood around. Many have thrown up their hands and put their houses on the market. They can no longer support the life in Kensington. A sad state of affairs, indeed. With each sale of a home, property developers descend, creating more HMOs and further degrading the area. Can
this be turned around? The Kensington Residents Association has reached the end of their fight. Perhaps others will take up this issue and revive the Kensington neighbourhood to its old glory.