Kensington & ChelseaNews

Former Grenfell residents outraged by plans to build high rise homes blocking Trellick Tower

By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter

Former Grenfell Tower residents have warned of the risk of another tragic fire  after the London Fire brigade were not asked about fire safety plans for a new tower block.

Residents at Trellick Tower have said the council’s actions are “unforgivable” after “we all watched Grenfell burn”.

The new tower block will be the first built in the borough since the Grenfell fire.

Keith Benton and Gill Kernick lived in Grenfell Tower until 2015 before moving to Grade II listed Trellick Tower, where they heartbreakingly watched the fire burn through the building from their balcony.

Gill said: “They should have done at least a LFB consultation around it before proposing to residents – given we all watched Grenfell burn.

“For me that’s unforgivable – to not have thought to do it. Even if it’s above minimum requirements.”

Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) have employed ARUP to do a fire risk assessment of the plans to build 113 homes at the base of Grade II listed Trellick Tower – but residents say this is not enough.

RBKC residents were promised that they would be put at the heart of decision making by the council.

Keith Benton standing outside Trellick Tower where he has lived since 2015

However, despite surveys showing residents were not in favour of the new tower RKBC is pushing ahead with plans to build the new homes.

Residents now feel fire safety has not been taken seriously at the proposed tower block and RBKC has not learnt from the Grenfell inquiry.

Keith, 74, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Everybody who lives in this block watched the fire. A lot of people watched the fire burn.

“They promised to listen but now they are not listening. Most of the council are doing the same thing as before.

“We want social housing. We are just not in favour of homes being shoved in this small area.

In a letter to councillor Kim Taylor-Smith Gill, in charge of housing, in August Gill added: “The Edenham Estate watched Grenfell burn from our homes.

“Our views are of the white cladded remains, the green heart a daily reminder of June 14, 2017.

“[What] I am opposed to is the height of the two proposed buildings that raise concerns about fire and life safety in the wake of Grenfell.

“Additionally, they negatively impact both the views of and from the Grade II listed estate and place a wall that effectively divides the Cheltenham estate in half.”

Campaigners are also worried the council are trying to cram too many homes into the development and stretch the resources of London’s most deprived ward.

Following discussions with residents, the number of proposed homes on the site was reduced from 169 to 113 and the size of the new tower block was cut down to 14 storeys.

The plans are yet to be presented to RBKC’s planning committee but campaigners want more action to be taken and insist the new tower block is lowered again and all the new homes are social housing.

Residents say they now have 2,500 signatures on a petition against the development- enough to trigger a full council meeting on the subject and that they will soon submit it to RBKC.

Campaigners also want to protect the tower’s famous graffiti wall, which is on the site for the new development.

The Brutalist Trellick Tower is considered a ‘watchdog’ for the nearby area and is a popular film destination with Black Mirror, 28 Days Later and Paddington all having filmed at the location.

Golborne Ward councillor and former MP Emma Dent Coad said: “The council must implement the policies they themselves have formally agreed.

“They have publicly committed to ‘co-design’ future housing projects with residents. They have formally agreed at Full Council the 2015 Supplementary Planning Document for the Edenham site, which is now Planning policy.

“They have been criticised for breaching their own policies by outside auditors. Time to implement their policies – and listen to residents.”

But the council is trying to meet the need to build more affordable homes in the borough.

The new estate is part of RBKC’s plans to build 600 new homes in the borough including 300 priced at social rent.

Protesters have glued leaflets opposing the new homes on Golborne Road

What the council say:

A council spokesperson said: “LFB will be involved later. Consulting LFB is a formal process that occurs after the planning application has been approved.

It has to go through Building Regulations submission first and when it passes that stage and there is an application to work with LFB will see it.

The fire strategy at Edenham has been designed to allow the fire service access to the site and within each building.

“Arup has been appointed under a professional agreement to develop the design in accordance with current building safety regs, and the council’s fire and safety requirements.

The measures proposed for these blocks go above what’s nationally prescribed.

“At the end of the project, upon completion, a fire safety manual will be provided to the team who will manage the homes with full floor plans showing all fire precautions, a fire strategy document, a fire maintenance document, a pre-occupation fire risk assessment, and information relating to all fire safety measures.”

Councillor Kim Taylor-Smith, in charge of housing, said: “We’ve had lots of support for our new homes programme, with two sites now under construction.

“On the Edenham scheme, we held three rounds of online and in person consultation with the local community.

“We have made changes as a direct result of what we have heard from residents. This includes reducing the height of the tallest building and reducing the number of homes overall.

“We’ve consulted, we’ve compromised but there is no getting round the social housing shortage.

“Around 2,100 people are in temporary accommodation waiting for a safe and secure home to call their own.

“The Edenham scheme will provide 113 homes, improved community facilities and create local employment opportunities in one of the most deprived areas of London.”


Pictured: Keith Benton watched the Grenfell fire happen from his balcony on Trellick Tower

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