Relief at last for Grenfell Tower families as 250 homeless residents are rehoused in a £2billion luxury block in Kensington after authorities buy up 68 flats in £10million deal
- Families made homeless by the blaze have been scattered around hotels after chaotic response to disaster
- City of London Corporation has purchased 68 flats in a luxury apartment block for some survivors
- Some apartments in the new block - which boasts a swimming pool and gym - go for more than £8million
Around 250 homeless and beleaguered survivors of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire will be rehoused permanently inside a £2billion luxury Kensington development.
The 68 one, two and three bedroom properties have been bought for just £10million and will provide refuge for families who lost everything in the blaze that killed 79 people a week ago.
Apartments in the development are currently for sale from £1,575,000 to £8.5 million but the developer St Edward agreed sold the 68 flats at 'cost' price even though they have a market value of at least £160million.
Some of the families currently being put up in hotels or even sleeping rough or in their cars will be moved into the flats permanently from the end of next month.
The development on Kensington High Street has been 'one of London's most sought after new addresses' with large rooms and balconies offering panoramic views of London. Residents also have access to a swimming pool, sauna, cinema and gym.
The deal is said to have been financed by the City of London Corporation who immediately handed the flats to Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, who have been so heavily criticised since Britain's worst fire for a generation.
Survivors of the Grenfell Tower blaze which killed 79 are to be moved into this new luxury development in Kensington
The development has over 500 apartments, of which the government has bought up 68 for those displaced by the fire
Pictures of the development show rooms in the block's penthouses, although the survivors are unlikely to live in such flats
The property deal is a rare piece of good news for the families who lost friends and loved ones in last week's blaze.
The 1974 tower block, which was refurbished last year, was engulfed by fire after a fridge exploded in its fourth floor.
Everyone on its top three storeys is believed to have perished including dozens who cowered together in their final moments a single room.
Others died trying to escape or even threw themselves and their children out of windows to escape the deadly heat and smoke.
Since the blaze anger has continued to mount over Kensington council’s ‘chaotic’ handling of the Grenfell disaster amid reports of survivors sleeping rough and being denied cash because of confusing forms.
Nearly a week after the blaze which killed 79 and made hundreds homeless, desperate residents were said to still be struggling with accommodation and support.
More than £300,000 of the £5m emergency fund has been handed to families and over 100 people have been moved into hotels so far, the group said.
However, Lawyer Khatija Sacranie, who is offering free advice to those displaced, said some people trying to collect the aid money had been turned away empty handed because they had completed the wrong forms.
And one survivor said he was sent away with just £20 after officials ran out of cash.
The botched response effort was branded as ‘appalling’ with people still ‘running around like headless chickens’ by Kensington’s new Labour MP Emma Dent Coad.
‘People have to be looked after now. They have to be housed now. There’s still total chaos out there.
‘I’m absolutely horrified to hear people have been sleeping in cars and in parks because they don’t know where to go and they aren’t being looked after. Even now after nearly a week that’s still the case,’ she said.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, the MP said that she had heard ‘countless’ and ‘despicable’ reports that traumatised survivors are still sleeping rough, however the response team said they were unaware of this occurring.
She said there needed to be ’better communication’ of what is going on in ‘countless different ways’.
‘The co-ordination is appalling. Somebody told me this morning they are still this morning running around like headless chickens - that was something somebody from the inside (said),’ she added.
Fellow Tottenham MP David Lammy tweeted about reports survivors are being ‘threatened’ with being classed ‘intentionally homeless’ if they refused being rehoused hundreds of miles away which he branded ‘absolutely despicable’.
A mixture of one, two and three-bedroom flats have been purchased and will house up to 250 residents affected by the fire.
The development will be ready by the end of next month, with the government paying for extra work to be done to ensure the flats are completed in time.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, whose department arranged the move with the Corporation of London, 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 move came as an independent public advocate to help bereaved families after major disasters was announced in the Queen's Speech.
The homes are being prepared for the survivors who are currently being housed in hotels around west London
The deal to buy the flats is thought to have cost of the government tens of millions of pounds. Pictured: Show flat in brochure
The Department of Commnunities says it is working to get those affected by the fire rehomed after widespread criticism of the shambolic response to the blaze
The post was announced by the monarch along with confirmation that a public inquiry will also be held into the June 14 fire, which prompted a mass outpouring of grief and anger.
Announcing the new roles as she opened the new parliamentary session, the Queen said: 'My government will initiate a full public inquiry into the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, to ascertain the causes and ensure the appropriate lessons are learned.
'To support victims, my government will take forward measures to introduce an independent public advocate, who will act for bereaved families after a public disaster and support them at public inquests.'
The Grenfell Fire Response Team said so far some £675,200 has been distributed to affected families via £500 in cash, £5,000 bank transfers and other 'discretionary payments' made by Kensington and Chelsea Council.
More than 400 people were living in the tower block when fire rapidly spread through it a week ago, killing at least 79
Families still traumatised by what they went through have been moved into hotels around London since the disaster
John Barradell, head of the Grenfell Fire Response Team, paid tribute to the volunteers and community members who stepped in after the blaze, and vowed that more will be done.
He said: 'We are doing all we can to co-ordinate and bring in additional support to help local people who have suffered so much, but know we have so much more to do and won't let up on our efforts.
'As well as looking to deliver much more and effective practical and emotional help, we are listening very closely to the community so they can direct help to where it is needed most.'
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the team of more than 250 criminal investigators working on the disaster, said: 'We will continue to do everything we can to find answers to those who are missing loved ones.
'I know that for those who are suffering, those answers cannot come quickly enough.'