After Grenfell: tenant empowerment and the end of cities as markets

The Grenfell Tower tragedy raises huge questions about public sector austerity, growing inequality and the price we pay for treating homes as commodities. Neil McInroy gives his view to New Start on the way forward for housing, community relations and cities

Neil McInroy: ‘If any good can come out of this horror, it will be a rejection of the idea that cities are predominantly a market’

The horror of Grenfell is linked to deepening and widening inequality and injustice in our cities.  The chasm in housing choice and wealth – while particularly brutal in Kensington and Chelsea – is replicated across the country.

In many communities, the voice of local citizens is too often drowned out, by the loud and powerful noise of (non-local) capital return, wealth, investment and profit. Any social housing that remains in this context of speculation and appreciation, is disrespected. It is an irrelevance- its out of the loud market that bellows more than any tenant or local citizen can.

In the case of Grenfell Tower it is becoming evident that corners were cut, bad decisions were made and the voices of the people were ignored. The lived experience of life in the tower, where residents consistently highlighted the problems and risk – played second fiddle to an orchestra of relaxed attitudes toward, regulation, standards and red tape. If any good can come out of this ever growing horror, it will be a rejection of the idea that cities are predominantly a market for economic growth and wealth accumulation.

Instead we need a restoration of the idea that we all should have equal rights in the city and that cities are first and foremost a place of communities, citizens, people and homes.

Read the article in full.