Four years after a deadly fire engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London, the 24-storey residential building is all set to be demolished with the UK Government’s decision based on a safety report that recommended that the structure be deconstructed or partially deconstructed at the earliest.
The safety report by engineering consultancy Atkins expressed concern over the safety of people living and working around the tower. "There is unanimous agreement and unambiguous advice from all the technical experts and engineers involved in the Grenfell project that the tower should not be propped for the medium to long-term but should be deconstructed at the earliest possible opportunity, with deconstruction commencing no later than May 2022," the report stated.
The 2017 fire, which killed 72 residents, was triggered by a faulty household appliance but spread rapidly due to the flammable exterior cladding on the building.
The burnt tower, which is currently under the control of the ministry of housing, communities and local government, is covered in a protective shroud.
While a final decision is yet to be taken by the government on the demolition and no official announcement has been made, the latest development has caused deep anguish among the survivors and families of the victims. The families had the government’s assurance that no change would be made to the tower ahead of the fire’s fifth anniversary in June 2022.
Grenfell United, which represents the families, said that they were shocked by the latest development. While the Grenfell community accepted the removal of the tower, they felt the time needed to be decided by them and not the government. According to the organisation, only a few families had been consulted by the government on a decision that needed to consider a wider range of viewpoints.
The devastating Grenfell Tower fire had led to a ban on all combustible cladding on buildings over 18 metres high in England and Wales. Earlier this year, the government had also announced a scheme for removing unsafe cladding from buildings.
Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue, a spokesperson for the ministry of housing, communities and local government said, "Following important independent safety advice from structural engineers, we are engaging closely with the community as we consider the evidence including the safety concerns raised, and what the future of the Grenfell Tower should be."