Controversy over plans to demolish Grenfell Tower

Government plans to demolish Grenfell Tower have been rejected by former tenants and the relatives of residents who lost their lives in the fire, who are putting forward their own plans to turn the building into a “vertical forest”.

A group representing people who lost family members are suggesting that nature be allowed to take over the high-rise block in west London, with 72 species of plants covering the structure – one for every person who died in the fire.

In mid May the Government published a letter revealing it was considering if and when Grenfell Tower should be “carefully” taken down. This sparked strong opposition, with some relatives saying they would use legal action to thwart any attempt to demolish the building.

The Government said it had received important advice from structural engineers about the condition of the tower, but it did not share this with the local community.

A favoured alternative option among some relatives is a living tower, based on the vision of Italian architect Stefano Boeri, who has designed numerous “vertical forests” on buildings across Europe.

The idea for Grenfell to follow suit originated from a former resident of the tower who lost a child in the blaze. A spokesperson for the Grenfell Next of Kin group said: “It is a progressive option when compared with knocking the building down and releasing all the pollution and debris and asbestos as well as the huge trauma it will cause everyone.”

It was also revealed in May that at least four households who lived in Grenfell Tower at the time of the fire, are still living in temporary accommodation almost four years on from the fire, as Kensington & Chelsea Council has yet to find them suitable permanent housing which is acceptable to the families concerned.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor