Three Years on from Grenfell: An Update

The 14th June marked the three very anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy that saw 72 lose their lives. The third anniversary of the event sees a London gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic and plenty of additional challenges – but it is important that tragedy is properly remembered, even this year. 

So, given that it is three years on – what exactly what happened? Do the residents of Grenfell and the surrounding area feel that enough has been, not only to honour the victims, but also to try to do everything possible to minimise the risk of something like this ever happening again? 

Here we take a look at the initiatives and plans that have been put in place to make the necessary changes to Grenfell and the local community – and provide an update on how these have progressed over the past three years. 

Grants to support projects

While much has happened over the past three years one of the major positives has been the £600k that was made available in the form of grants to support local projects for the Grenfell community. Existing organisations and new collectives were invited to apply for funding on projects that would benefit the community. 

And while there have undoubtedly been some challenges and as well some anger about the processes that have been related to how these funds were distributed, in general, the funds have been welcomed. Indeed, a number of high-quality projects have been funded dealign with everything from cycling schemes and healthy eating through to gardening and tree planting. 

Of course, nothing can truly make amends for the tragedy, but it is right that more money has been made available. 

There has been some positive change

There has at least been something in the way of positive change regarding the rules, regulations and laws that government highrise properties in London. After the Grenfell disaster, Croydon was the first borough to retrofit automatic fire suppression systems at all blocks of flats that are ten storeys or higher. 

It is a good thing they did because, in December 2019, a fire broke out at a flat in the Waldrons area of Croydon. Thanks to the activation of the sprinkler system that has been retrofitted in the building, the fire was contained, providing fire and rescue services enough time to arrive on the scene and extinguish the fire. 

There can be no doubt that these fire suppression systems are an extremely effective measure against fire outbreaks. And while some local authorities have made progress in putting these systems in place, the government as a whole has been slow to implement the necessary changes to make a difference. 

Many are still unsafe

According to the public watchdog, as of June 2020, just 1% of the £200m made available by the government last year to replace cladding in the private sector has actually been used. Ultimately, this means that there are thousands of people across London who are still living in flats that are dangerous and unsellable. 

The work was initially scheduled to be entirely completed by this point. But delays followed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed progress significantly. The repairs are now due to be finished some time in 2022, although the COVID-19 virus could have a long last effect and push back completion further. 

Once again, it has to be said that this is something that the government must prioritise in these challenging times to ensure the safety of residents wherever possible. 

Final thoughts

The Grenfell disaster rightly remains in the minds of citizens of London as well as policymakers, three years on from the events themselves. It is essential that those responsible for large blocks of flats make the changes that are necessary to keep all residents safe from a Grenfell-style disaster being repeated. 

Some in the community feel positive about the grants and initiatives in place that have been designed to ensure that we never see something similar again. But others are concerned that not enough has been done and justice is overdue. 

The coronavirus has not helped with the swift progression of the changes that have been mandated – but it is hoped that these can get back on track as soon as possible. 

Written by Julie Hanson

Julie is passionate about property – development, investment and portfolio planning. Along with husband Alec, Julie is actively building a property portfolio while helping others to do the same.

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