Fire survivors to get homes on luxury site


The Government has purchased apartments at an upmarket development to rehouse survivors of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Sixty-eight new social housing units at the Kensington Row development in Kensington High Street have been acquired, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said.

Prices for homes on the site – which includes a private cinema and a 24-hour concierge service – range from £1.5m to £8.5m.

Developer St Edward, a joint venture between the Berkeley Group and Prudential, has committed extra construction staff and relaxed working time restrictions to complete the project by the end of July.

Tony Pidgley, chairman of the Berkeley Group, said staff would “work night and day to get these homes ready” so families “can start to rebuild their lives”.

The flats – a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments – will be offered as one of the options to permanently rehouse residents from Grenfell Tower.

Additional Whitehall cash has also been made available to furnish the flats to speed up the move.

The properties, in two affordable housing blocks at the site, are situated around 1.5 miles from Grenfell Tower.

The announcement comes a week after a fire destroyed the 24-storey block in west London – with at least 79 people now dead or missing, presumed dead.

“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 Mr Javid.

“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.”

So far 110 housing needs assessments have been carried out as work continues to identify the displaced and match them to suitable housing.

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to rehouse all those who lost their homes in the inferno and “have been left with nothing” at the earliest possible opportunity, within three weeks at the latest.

She has faced criticism of her handling of the crisis and decision to not meet with survivors in the immediate aftermath.

After confirming a public inquiry into the blaze, plans for an independent public advocate to help bereaved families after major disasters were announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for empty homes near the scene of the fire in north Kensington to be requisitioned to house families.

Meanwhile, Airbnb has called on its London hosts to open their homes for free to Red Cross staff and volunteers who have been supporting those affected by the fire.