A week ago, I wrote admiringly of Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to house people displaced by the fire at the Grenfell in empty luxury flats in the area.
Though I did not describe it as such, I felt that this proposal was a world class, and well deserved, troll, but that this would never happen.
I was wrong. The troll has become reality:
Sixty-eight flats in a luxury apartment complex where prices start at £1.6m are being made available to families displaced by the Grenfell Tower fire.
Families who escaped the tower blaze will be able to take up permanent occupation in July and August in the apartments in the Kensington Row scheme about 1.5 miles south of Grenfell, where last Wednesday’s blaze left 79 people dead and missing and presumed dead.
The homes are within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea but in the more affluent south end of the borough. They have been purchased by the Corporation of London and will become part of its social housing stock.
Grenfell Tower fire: death toll raised to 79 as minute’s silence held
The most luxurious four-bedroom apartments are currently on sale in the development for £8.5m but the homes being released to Grenfell residents are part of the affordable quota being built and feature a more “straightforward” internal specification, but have the same build quality.
The complex includes a 24-hour concierge, swimming pool, sauna and spa and private cinema.
It is not yet clear if the Grenfell residents will have access to the facilities, which are normally not included for those in affordable housing.
“We’ve got to start by finding each of them a home,” said Tony Pidgley, chairman of the Berkeley Group, which built the homes. “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.”
The move follows calls by Jeremy Corbyn for luxury homes in the borough to be requisitioned.
Last week he said: “Kensington is a tale of two cities. The south part of Kensington is incredibly wealthy, it’s the wealthiest part of the whole country. The ward where this fire took place is, I think, the poorest ward in the whole country and properties must be found – requisitioned if necessary – to make sure those residents do get rehoused locally.”
My theory is that Coebyn’s proposal scared the hell out of the real estate community, for whom empty buildings purchased by mobsters, despots, and other money launderers that is their bread and butter.
Had even one of these empty flats been requisitioned, the damage to the very high end London real estate market would have lasted for decades.