Commission sets out timeline for creating long-term proposals for west London tower-block site

Grenfell shutterstock_1116845372

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Almost five years after the Grenfell Tower fire claimed 72 lives in west London, the commission set up to remember victims of the tragedy has set out a timeline for proposals to create a permanent memorial.

In a just-published update, the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission said it expected a public competition to select a design team to deliver the memorial would be launched next year, with the aim of securing community agreement on a final design towards the end of 2024.

The government has set aside a site of just under 3,000sq m for the memorial, which includes the ground on which the tower block stands in North Kensington and adjacent land on either side.

The commission said it had so far held 29 online community meetings, mostly with survivors and bereaved families, and recorded conversations with around 200 people as part of its work since August 2020. A further 40 working group meetings have been held to explore specific issues and 35 memorial commission meetings.

The commission said the emerging vision for the memorial was that it should be a peaceful place that would provide a space for reflection and remembrance of those that lost their lives, why the tragedy happened, and the need for justice.

It said incorporating a garden as part of the memorial was a popular idea, but that there was also interest in a building.


The commission said several bereaved family members said they wanted at least part of Grenfell Tower to be protected and incorporated within the memorial, and that the building should be reused somehow. One suggestion proposed retaining Grenfell Tower as a “vertical garden” with a platform at a high level and plants hanging down.

The commission said the decision on whether Grenfell Tower remains standing or is taken down was for the government to make. But the report said elements of Grenfell could be included in a memorial.

It added that some people had called for the memorial to incorporate something “symbolic on the skyline” that gave the same visibility as the tower, while and others suggested something that would be illuminated at night.

The commission acknowledged that some people living and working near the shrouded remains of Grenfell Tower said the structure placed a strain on their mental health.

The report also stated that a newspaper story in September last year suggesting that ministers had already decided that Grenfell Tower should be demolished because of structural concerns had left the commission “shocked, dismayed and completely blindsided”.

It said the story had damaged public trust in the commission’s independence and forced it to suspend work for more than four months. Work only resumed after Michael Gove – who succeeded Robert Jenrick as housing secretary in September 2021 – had provided assurances that no decision about the future of the tower would be taken without community involvement.

Work schedule

The commission said that over the summer it expected to choose independent experts to advise on how elements of the tower could be conserved and reused in the memorial, so guidance could be included as a specification within the design brief.

It added that conversations, workshops and meetings with the community would continue to be held for the remainder of this year, focussing on areas yet to be covered in detail.

The commission said a second report would be published early in 2023 that would share findings and invite feedback that would contribute to the development of a design brief for the memorial.

It said the design team for the memorial would be chosen in a public competition between April 2023 and April 2024. “They will need the right expertise to develop the memorial, as well as involving us and the community in the development of the final design,” it said.

The timeline earmarked December 2024 as a time when the community would be able to agree the final design ahead of planning permission being sought.