With the weight of many years’ experience writing and advising on London’s housing and planning strategies behind me, I think it fair to say that the inferno at Grenfell Tower – a publicly owned housing block for lower-income households – represents an acute failure of government at all levels. The facts of the case are subject to a major enquiry – and new information is emerging on a daily basis. We still do not know whether the death toll is 30 or 100.
At this early stage, it is premature to attribute blame. Yet residents who have lost their homes and possessions – and in many cases their relatives and friends – are justified in their anger and their need to seek justice and redress. It is unlikely that we will see any of the parties involved admitting responsibility for the disaster. Certainly, should any charges of corporate manslaughter be laid – as Labour MP David Lammy has demanded – they would be subject to legal disputes for months and possibly years to come.