LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that people left homeless by the Grenfell Tower catastrophe will be rehoused in a luxury development in west London.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, she confirmed that the City of London Corporation has acquired 68 homes in the Kensington Row complex after the disaster, which killed at least 79 and left many more homeless.
The homes are being built as part of a luxury development by St Edward, a joint venture between Prudential and the Berkeley Group, and are located just 1.5 miles away from Grenfell Tower. They form part of the complex’s affordable housing quota.
But existing residents at the Kensington Row flats are not entirely happy about their new neighbours. Speaking to the Guardian, a man named Nick – who pays £2,500 a month to rent a one-bedroom flat in the development – questioned the plans.
“I’m very sad that people have lost their homes, but there are a lot of people here who have bought flats and will now see the values drop. It will degrade things. And it opens up a can of worms in the housing market,” he said.
Another resident, an unnamed woman, added: “We paid a lot of money to live here, and we worked hard for it. Now these people are going to come along, and they won’t even be paying the service charge.”
Not all shared their negativity, according to The Guardian. “It was dreadful, I had friends living there. We gave stuff, and went up and helped for a couple days last week. In my eyes everyone should be equal,” said man called AJ.
Resident Jaime Paul added: “People who are worried about the values of their homes are just being selfish.”
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, May said the affordable housing in Kensington Row had been “generously offered at cost price” by developer Berkeley. This means the deal secured by the City of London Corporation 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.
Construction work has not been completed on the affordable housing, but Berkeley will speed up the project in light of the Grenfell disaster. Extra construction staff have been committed by the developer St Edward and working hour restrictions will be relaxed. It is expected to be completed by the end of July.
May said a total of 164 properties have been identified for homeless Grenfell residents. She added that no survivors will be forced to move somewhere they don’t want to go.