Grenfell Tower blaze survivors lined up for homes in upmarket neighbourhood
The flats have been bought at the Kensington Row development in upmarket High Street Kensington, a week on from the disaster.
Grenfell Tower fire survivors are to be re-homed in a housing development where prices start at almost £1.6 million, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced, as inquests were opened into the deaths of five people killed in the disaster.
Some 68 one-, two- and three-bedroom “social housing” flats have been bought at the Kensington Row development in upmarket High Street Kensington, a week on from the blaze which left at least 79 dead.
A married couple were the latest victims to be officially named on Wednesday as Westminster Coroner’s Court heard Omar Belkadi, 32, died from inhaling fire fumes, while his wife, Farah Hamdan, 31, was killed by smoke inhalation.
Abufars Ibrahim, 39, died of multiple injuries, while Anthony Disson, 65, and a 52-year-old woman, Khadija Khalloufi, both died from inhalation of fire fumes, the court was told.
Dr Fiona Wilcox, the senior coroner for Westminster, looked tearful at one point during the hearing as she opened and adjourned the inquests.
Earlier in the day a funeral for 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammad Alhajali, the first victim to be identified, was attended by his family and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
In a statement read by a friend after the service at the East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road, his family said he “loved London and loved the people he met here”, and had begun pursuing his dream of studying engineering.
“He was a loving and caring person, always showing support and solidarity for friends and family stuck back in Syria,” the statement said.
“His very last words to us were how much he missed us. Ever since he moved away from us, we tried to be united with him and his brothers, and now, instead, we have been united by his body.”
Wednesday also saw the announcement that flats around 1.5 miles from Grenfell tower in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea had been purchased by the City of London Corporation in a deal brokered by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The newly built homes are in two affordable housing blocks are on a site where private homes are on offer from £1,575,000 to £8.5 million and boast a 24-hour concierge and a private cinema, according to the website of developer St Edward.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the “expectation is that these new properties will be offered as one of the options to permanently rehouse residents from Grenfell Tower”.
Mr Javid said: “The residents of Grenfell Tower have been through some of the most harrowing and traumatic experiences imaginable and it is our duty to support them.
“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.”
Extra public money has been found to fit out the flats more quickly, and the developer has taken on more staff and relaxed working hours rules, DCLG said, with the aim of having the homes ready by the end of July.
Eleanor Kelly, chief executive of Southwark Council and spokeswoman for the Grenfell Response Team, said: “Rehousing those residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire as quickly as possible is our main priority, and I am pleased that a significant amount of housing has now been identified.”
The announcement came after much anger from survivors and victims’ families in the aftermath at the official response to the deadly blaze.
Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for empty homes near the scene of the fire in north Kensington to be requisitioned to house families.
An independent public advocate to help bereaved families after major disasters was announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier on Wednesday.
The speech confirmed plans for a public inquiry into the tragedy and a new strategy for resilience in major disasters could include a Civil Disaster Reaction Taskforce to help at times of emergency, and an independent advocate will support those affected and help them at inquests.