Ultimately, it will be for the relevant secretary of state, currently Michael Gove, to says that enough time and money has been spent on propping the ruins and that it is now time for demolition.
Specialist structural engineers have told the government that they cannot keep propping up Grenfell Tower for much longer. A report by Atkins last year for the Ministry of Housing said: “There is unanimous agreement and unambiguous advice from all the technical experts and engineers involved in the Grenfell project that the tower should not be propped for the medium to long-term but should be deconstructed at the earliest possible opportunity, with deconstruction commencing no later than May 2022.”
This will not be happening.
Secretary of state Michael Gove has written to local residents in the Grenfell Tower vicinity of North Kensington saying that “now is not the right time to take a decision about the future of Grenfell Tower”.
In his letter, Michael Gove recognises that local sensitivities are liable to be offended whatever he does, because of the scale of the horror of the fire on 14th June 2017 in which 72 residents were killed. Some can’t bear to see it; others regard it as in some way sacred.
“This is not a time-limited conversation,” Mr Gove writes, suggesting he is no hurry to authorise demolition. “It is right that we give more time as a decision about the tower must be approached sensitively and in a way that people feel as comfortable as possible with.”
Meanwhile, as part of work to ensure the tower’s stability, metal props are still being installed throughout the tower. This has recently involved adjusting the scaffolding on one side of the tower, adding a small lift at basement level to take out heavy equipment such as boilers, and removing small sections of the tower wrapping. The annual rewrapping of the tower also began earlier this month.
The government is also supporting the independent Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission, which is continuing to meet with the community around ideas for a future memorial.