Grenfell Tower families to be rehoused in flats at luxury complex
Families will be able to move into Kensington Row complex, where homes are on sale starting at £1.6m, from next month
Sixty-eight flats in a luxury apartment complex where prices start at £1.6m are being made available to families displaced by the Grenfell Tower fire.
Families who escaped the tower blaze will be able to take up permanent occupation in July and August in the apartments in the Kensington Row scheme about 1.5 miles south of Grenfell, where last Wednesday’s blaze left 79 people dead and missing and presumed dead.
The homes are within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea but in the more affluent south end of the borough. They have been purchased by the Corporation of London and will become part of its social housing stock.
The most luxurious four-bedroom apartments are currently on sale in the development for £8.5m but the homes being released to Grenfell residents are part of the affordable quota being built and feature a more “straightforward” internal specification, but have the same build quality.
The complex includes a 24-hour concierge, swimming pool, sauna and spa and private cinema.
It is not yet clear if the Grenfell residents will have access to the facilities, which are normally not included for those in affordable housing.
“We’ve got to start by finding each of them a home,” said Tony Pidgley, chairman of the Berkeley Group, which built the homes. “Somewhere safe and supportive, close to their friends and the places they know, so they can start to rebuild their lives. We will work night and day to get these homes ready.”
The move follows calls by Jeremy Corbyn for luxury homes in the borough to be requisitioned.
Last week he said: “Kensington is a tale of two cities. The south part of Kensington is incredibly wealthy, it’s the wealthiest part of the whole country. The ward where this fire took place is, I think, the poorest ward in the whole country and properties must be found – requisitioned if necessary – to make sure those residents do get rehoused locally.”
Alex Jeffrey, chief executive of M&G Real Estate, which manages the property interests of the housing development’s co-investor Prudential, adds: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the Grenfell Tower fire and are obviously relieved that we can help in some small way by providing homes of high quality within the borough to some of the families who have been affected.”
The homes will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats across two blocks and have been acquired by the Corporation of London. which will add them to its social housing stock.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has provided “additional funding to fit out the flats to ensure they are ready for people to move in to sooner”, a DCLG statement said.
Extra construction staff have been committed by the developer and working-hour restrictions will be relaxed to speed the completion of the flats. Each home will be fully furnished, according to the DCLG.
The government has already committed to finding suitable accommodation in the local area for victims who lost their homes within a maximum of three weeks.
“The residents of Grenfell Tower have been through some of the most harrowing and traumatic experiences imaginable and it is our duty to support them,” said Sajid Javid, the communities secretary.
“Our priority is to get everyone who has lost their home permanently rehoused locally as soon as possible, so that they can begin to rebuild their lives. The government will continue to do everything we can as fast as we can to support those affected by this terrible tragedy.”
A spokesman for the Corporation of London said: “We are ready to do everything we can to help the victims of the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower. We already provide council housing across seven London boroughs and are committed to delivering 3,700 new homes on sites across the capital.
“These plans are being discussed and agreed in principle as matter of urgency as part of the response by councils across London to support the team working on recovery efforts.”
One hundred and forty hotel placements have been made for people living in Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, according to the official Grenfell response team.
“Work is now taking place to assess the housing needs of all Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk families to identify longer-term accommodation in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and neighbouring borough,” a spokesperson said. “So far 110 assessments have been completed.”