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Construction on lasting Grenfell memorial could begin in 2026

A report has set out a series of recommendations for a ‘sacred space’ designed to be a ‘peaceful place for remembering and reflecting’.

The Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission has set out recommendations for a lasting memorial to the victims and survivors of the 2017 blaze (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Construction of a “bold, fitting, and lasting memorial” to those affected by the Grenfell fire could begin from late 2026, a new report has said.

The Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission’s second report, published on Tuesday, calls on the Government to honour a commitment to fund the building and long-term maintenance of the future memorial.

The commission, made up of representatives of the bereaved, survivors and residents of the Lancaster West Estate on which the remains of the tower stand, as well as two independent co-chairs, was established in the years after the blaze to ensure the community is at the heart of decisions on the long-term future of the site.

An archive to host displays of community remembrance which were created after the tragedy has been proposed (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
An archive to host displays of community remembrance which were created after the tragedy has been proposed (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Seventy-two people died when fire engulfed the residential tower block in North Kensington, west London, in June 2017.

The commission’s latest report sets out a series of recommendations for a “sacred space” designed to be a “peaceful place for remembering and reflecting”.

It states that the space should include a garden, a monument and a dedicated space for the private expression of grief and mourning for the families who lost loved ones.

Views on the use of parts of the tower in any lasting memorial were mixed, the commission said, with some people feeling some things recovered or parts of the tower itself “should form part of the memorial” while “others do not agree”.

The commission recognised this “hugely difficult area with many different views” and said they will “work through how we can respect the sensitivities on all sides”.

The commission stated that elements which “cannot be retained as part of the memorial and which are not to be conserved must be safely and respectfully laid to rest at a second site” agreed with bereaved family members and survivors.

In conducting their research, the commission looked at memorials to other tragedies around the world including the Aberfan memorial in Wales, 7/7 in London and the 9/11 memorial in the US.

Among the potential suggestions for a future memorial from the range of ideas and thoughts from the Grenfell community, were using light to depict the height of Grenfell Tower, similar to the 9/11 memorial, or columns lit up with green hearts.

A “specialist and community-minded” design team is aimed to be selected by late 2024, with a design developed by late 2025, the commission said.

While an exact timeline is not certain, the groups said the the memorial build could begin from late 2026, recognising this is dependent on other factors including a Government decision about the future of the tower.

The remains are currently still standing, with a green heart and the message “Forever in our hearts” visible at the top of the tower.

The commission said: “Everyone agrees that if Grenfell Tower comes down, it should be dismantled with care and respect, and in a way that honours our loved ones who were taken from us.”

The commission’s 10 community representatives said: “Today’s report sets out the hopes, aspirations, and vision of our Grenfell community for a bold, fitting, and lasting memorial.

“The memorial will be a place of safety, peacefulness, and private and communal reflection, a place where we can all draw strength.

“It will also be a visible symbol to all those in power, of the implications of neglecting a community and a reminder of the importance of ensuring that a tragedy that should never have happened, never happens again.

“Our report represents an important milestone on the journey to making the Grenfell community’s memorial vision a physical reality.

“Today we call on the Government to fulfil its moral duty, and to honour its commitments to the memorial by delivering our recommendations, so that those we have lost are never forgotten.”

Recommendations beyond the tower site itself include proposals for a long-term museum or other exhibition so future generations can learn about and remember what happened, and an archive to host displays of community remembrance which were created after the tragedy.

The Royal Parks organisation, which manages the likes of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, was suggested as a possible candidate for the long-term upkeep of the memorial.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove welcomed the report, saying: “I am absolutely committed to supporting the Grenfell community and making sure they are at the heart of the vision for this memorial.

“My department will continue to work with the commission to take forward their recommendations for a lasting and fitting memorial to honour those who lost their lives in the Grenfell tragedy.”

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