LONDON – The City of London Corporation has acquired 68 Kensington homes to re-house victims of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.
The homes are part of a development by St Edward, a joint venture between Prudential and the Berkeley Group, and are located just 1.5 miles away from Grenfell Tower at Kensington Row.
The Evening Standard reports that the homes were sold to the City of London Corporation at cost price, meaning the deal was worth little over £10 million.
The most expensive properties currently for sale in the development have an asking price of £8.5 million, but the homes being released for sale for Grenfell residents are part of the affordable quota being built, with more straightforward internal specifications.
They are currently nearing completion and will be ready for families to move in during July and August.
The homes – a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom flats – will become part of the City of London’s social housing stock, meaning residents will be able to live there on a permanent basis.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said in a statement that it has provided “additional funding to fit out the flats to ensure they are ready for people to move in to sooner.” It said extra construction staff had been committed by the developer and working hour restrictions would be relaxed to speed up completion of the flats.
The move comes following Labour leader’s Jeremy Corbyn’s call for empty homes in the wealthy borough to be requisitioned. There was widespread concern that victims of the fire – which claimed at least 79 lives and displaced at least 250 – would be forcibly rehomed elsewhere in the country.
Labour MP David Lammy claimed earlier this week that victims were being forced as far away as Preston in the north-west of England.
Tony Pidgley, chairman of the Berkeley Group, said in a statement: “We’ve got to start by finding each of them a home. Somewhere safe and supportive, close to their friends and the places they know, so they can start to rebuild their lives.”
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “We are ready to do everything we can to help the victims of the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower.”
“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.”