The people in the luxury Kensington block complaining about Grenfell Tower residents should be deeply ashamed

The truth is that the former Grenfell residents will be housed separately from the luxury apartments in two purpose-built 'affordable housing' blocks, with more modest designs and no access to the gym or pool

Kirsty Major
Thursday 22 June 2017 16:33
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Grenfell Tower fire: What do Kensington residents think of rehousing victims in luxury block?

According to the old adage, charity begins at home – that is, unless you are the residents of a luxury apartment block in Kensington who are up in arms at the prospect of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire being housed anywhere near them.

Sixty-eight social homes have been made available in a new £2bn development, where private homes sell from anything between £1.5m to £8.5m. Of course, beneath the spin, the truth is that residents will be housed separately from the luxury apartments in two purpose-built “affordable housing” blocks.

They won’t have access to the development's gym or the pool, and the design of the flats will be more modest than those of their wealthy neighbours – but that hasn’t stopped residents baulking at the idea of the great unwashed in their midst.

Their concerns reportedly range from benefit scroungers being given free housing that they worked hard to buy, schemers sub-letting flats to cream profits off the state, and the devaluation of their precious assets.

A resident named Nick, who pays £2,500 a month rent for a one-bedroom flat in the complex, was quoted as saying: “Who are the real tenants of Grenfell Tower? It seems as though a lot of flats there were sublet. Now the people whose names are on the tenancies will get rehoused here, and then they’ll rent the flats out on the private market… There are a lot of people here who have bought flats and will now see the values drop. It will degrade things.”

So, sorry about your loss, Grenfell residents, but at the end of the day most poor people who rent council homes have tastes so unsightly that they devalue property by their very presence.

It would be better if these people were rehomed in housing befitting their status and in their own areas. We should retain the status quo of a two-tier housing system – the same system that most likely led to the Grenfell Tower fire in the first place.

Jeremy Corbyn says every one of the Grenfell deaths were avoidable

This tragedy happened because residents were not listened to when they raised concerns about the safety of the building. In contrast, a resident of the Kensington Row apartments told one reporter that he had a problem with his air conditioning and it was fixed “within half an hour”. One wealthy private tenant gets a bit hot in the summer and has his needs seen to promptly; a collective of poor residents flag health and safety issues about fire prevention and are repeatedly ignored. This is the situation that some residents of the new luxury block apparently don’t mind perpetuating.

A handful of their new prospective neighbours have chosen not to see the humanity in the survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Instead they are using tired old tropes about council house tenants to justify their selfish desires to preserve their gated world.

These people may be raising the spectre of dirty benefit skivers, but what we are really seeing here is a moneyed class devoid of empathy.

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