Safety repairs begin on Kensington council estate near Grenfell after 15 years of campaigning

·2-min read
 (SPID Theatre)
(SPID Theatre)

Safety works on a housing estate near Grenfell Tower have finally begun after 15 years of campaigning by a community theatre based in the development.

Kensal House’s SPID Theatre said it has been petitioning Kensington and Chelsea council since 2006 to restore the dilapidated community rooms where the company is based and fix leaks and other hazards.

Work has now begun on the estate, which is less than a mile from Grenfell Tower.

SPID Theatre’s artistic director Helena Thompson said: "We are so relieved that this work is finally happening and we thank the council for stepping in now.

“Kensal House Residents Association united in support and [we] are humbled that twelve funders have all stood by us during lockdown. "

Kensal House (SPID Theatre)
Kensal House (SPID Theatre)

She added: “Real change is never easy, but it is overdue - and sadly comes in times of crisis. It’s likely our call for these vital works would still be unanswered had the tragedy of Grenfell not exposed the dangers of neglecting these buildings."

Two years ago the theatre company stepped up its campaign for repairs when it secured £2.6million of funding for a major restoration of its building, a scale up of free activities and a new lift.

But council delays in fixing leaks and safety hazards jeopardised the funding, which could not be spent on restoring the theatre rooms until basic repairs had been completed.

The work, which began this month, will prevent more water damage on the estate. Cracked and rusting pipes, damp concrete, badly-installed showers, deteriorated waterproofing and leaking vents will all be investigated and access panels will be installed to reduce the risk of future damage.

The award-winning theatre company works with young people to create theatre in council housing estates across London and its members include former residents of Grenfell, as well as current residents of Kensal House and neighbouring estates such as Trellick Tower and Silchester Estate.

It is also the theatre behind the production of the Burning Tower, a play which was made in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy.

Naomi Israel, SPID trustee, said: “SPID represents solidarity, which is something North Kensington desperately needs. At a time when so many youth centres are closing, young people like me simply cannot do without them.”

The council has said it will cover the costs of repairs.

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