Grenfell Tower fire: Flats in £2bn luxury Kensington block to be given to families

Residents evacuated from Grenfell Tower are set to move into a £2 billion luxury complex in the heart of Kensington, the Standard can reveal.

Plans are pressing ahead for some of the families made homeless from the devastating fire to be housed in one of London’s most desirable addresses.

The Standard can reveal that new flats in a Kensington High Street development — where penthouses go for up to £13 million — will be used to provide accommodation for families following the huge blaze that destroyed the tower block last week.

Sixty-eight flats in the Kensington Row scheme have been acquired to permanently house families from Grenfell Tower, which is just a couple of miles away.


Some Grenfell Tower residents are to be re-homed in Wolfe House, part of the same development

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “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 new housing move comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for luxury empty properties in Kensington to be taken over by the Government to house victims, a demand rejected by ministers.

The development is the second part of a £2 billion regeneration project called the Warwick Road Masterplan.

The deal was brokered by the Homes and Communities Agency on behalf of the government.

375 Kensington High Street Property – In pictures

Its chairman Sir Edward Lister told the Standard: “We are identifying suitable properties in the local area to rehouse residents as quickly as possible, as well as offering support to local authorities to run checks on any high-rise buildings. 

“We will do everything in our power to help those whose lives have been blighted by this horrendous fire and reassure those who live in similar buildings that their homes are safe.”

The 68 flats have been bought by the City of London Corporation as part of the response to the tragedy, and handed to Kensington & Chelsea Council for social housing. 

They will provide “longer-term accommodation” as 250 residents affected are currently being housed in hotels around the area.

The properties bought are a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom flats.


Emergency workers stand silent in memory of victims

Two bedroom flats are currently being advertised for up to £2.4 million, but it is understood the City of London Corporation paid around £10 million for the flats thanks to an “extraordinary gesture” of goodwill by developer St Edward in selling the properties at their cost price.

A property source said: “They are being sold to the corporation at cost. It is a huge gesture by them. It just goes to is show what kind of mark-up there is.”

The complex, in one of the most sought-after postcodes in the capital, is owned by developer St Edward, a joint venture between the Berkeley Group and Prudential, and features a gym, swimming pool and 24-hour concierge service – although the Grenfell residents will not have access to the services, a spokesman for the Berkeley Group said.

He said the flats were part of its affordable housing allocation, construction of which was being “fast-tracked” to help house the residents.


A woman sorts through donations for victims (PA)

Extra staff have been committed by the developers, and working hour restrictions will be relaxed so work can continue around the clock to fast-track completion of the development, the Government said. 

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government added that the government has also provided additional funding to fit out the flats to ensure they are ready for people to move in to sooner. 

Tony Pidgley, chairman of the Berkeley Group, said: “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.

“We will work night and day to get these homes ready.”

Alex Jeffrey, chief executive of M&G Real Estate, which manages the property interests of Prudential, added: “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 new accommodation is expected to be completed by the end of July.


Theresa May made an appearance at Grenfell Tower last week

A source at the development said many of the flats had been bought by foreign buyers, often knocking through walls to make bigger homes.

The source said: “It is crazy money. The garage is full of Maseratis and Ferraris. But I think maybe the people here wouldn’t mind the empty flats being used – it would be a way of giving something back. 

“There are a lot of empty flats here – it would be the right thing to do.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor has been clear that the local authority and the government must work to ensure that all residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire will be rehoused in the area, unless they choose not to be. 

“City Hall continues to work with the housing industry, local authority and the government so that good quality homes are made available as soon as possible. 

“Sadiq will continue to hold the government to account to ensure its commitment to rehoming residents locally is made.”

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