'When I was little, the alleyway outside our house was usually occupied by a few homeless men. On the way to school, I would have to quietly step over them as they slept. Then one day, they were gone. A few years later, that same passageway was cut off to residents. Developers claimed it as part of a new residential unit above the shops. This was the beginning of a corporate takeover of our entire block: one by one the regulated tenants in the alley, our neighbours, were bought out by new landlords– usually big banks or investment companies. The interiors of the homes were demolished, including all the historical features, while the facade was maintained, and much smaller apartments were built instead. There was constant demolition, construction noise and dust. The sound of drilling and banging was hellish. And all our neighbours were gone.’
Sharda is an urban geographer with a doctorate from the University of Leicester. She grew up in Kensington as a regulated tenant and was inspired to study gentrification by the experiences of her family, friends and community.