Wealthy homeowners say that Grenfell Tower survivors being rehomed in 'luxury' flats is 'unfair'

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Nicola Rachel Colyer
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When the Grenfell Tower fire took hold last week, destroying a social housing apartment block and taking the lives of at least 79 residents, those that survived the tragedy walked away with nothing other than their lives.

Having lost their homes, some survivors were placed into temporary accommodation, while others were left to sleep in parks or cars.

“People have been sleeping in cars and in parks because they don't know where to go and they aren't being looked after,” Newly elected MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad told Sky News.

One week on from the tragedy and the Government has announced that some of the victims are to be permanently rehoused in a luxury development in Kensington, the BBC reported. 

The Government has purchased 68 one to three bed apartments in a luxury development, where private homes will be on sale starting at £1.6m.

The move comes after the Government faced criticism for the lack of action in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and Theresa May took responsibility for its failure to help people in their time of need.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, Theresa May said: “People were left without belongings, without roofs over their heads, without even basic information about what had happened, what they should do and where they could seek help.

“That was a failure of the State - local and national - to help people when they needed it most.

“As prime minister, I apologise for that failure.”

The new homes that have been secured for the victims will mean that their new residence will be approximately 1.5 miles from the tower, in the more affluent part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The properties have been purchased by the Corporation of London and will become part of its social housing portfolio.

According to the BBC, the Department for Communities and Local Government said that “extra public money had been found so the flats could be fitted out more quickly, and more builders had been taken on.”

Families whose lives were devastated by the blaze will be able to move into their new homes from July, The Guardian reported.

While the most high-end homes in the development will be sold for £8.5m, the victims of the Grenfell fire will be moving in to part of the affordable housing quota being built that feature a more ‘straightforward’ specification, but have the same build quality.

Although the luxury development boasts a 24-hour concierge, swimming pool, sauna and spa and private cinema, the Evening Standard reported that social housing residents will not have access to these amenities.

There has been a varied response to the news from long-term locals of the affluent area.

While some are ready to welcome the new residents with open arms, others have complained that it isn’t ‘fair’ and that the arrival of the social housing residents will affect the value of their multi-million pound properties.

Speaking to The Guardianlocal resident, Maria, said: “It’s so unfair.

“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.”

While another resident, Nick, is concerned about the impact he thinks it will have on his locality, going as far as to say that it will ‘degrade things’.

“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.”

Naturally, there has been outcry on Twitter over this lack of empathy.

Thankfully, others have been much more open to the news and promised that the fire victims will be looked after by their new neighbours.

Speaking to the BBC, George, a Kensington resident for 30 years, said:

“In times of disaster, the communities in both the north and south of this borough come together,” he said. “The survivors and their families will be looked after.”

Images: The Berkeley Group/ REX Features


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Nicola Rachel Colyer

Nicola Colyer is a freelance writer and ex-corporate girl. A francophile and relapsing sugar-free graduate, she'll often be found seeking out the best places for brunch or struggling to choose between a green juice and a G&T.