The Wellcome Trust offered Kensington & Chelsea 70 homes for free after the Grenfell Tower fire

Emma Haslett
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Some 80 people are presumed dead after the fire. (Source: Getty)

One of the UK's largest institutional investors offered 70 homes to the Kensington and Chelsea council to rehouse victims of the Grenfell Tower blaze, but its offer was turned down, City A.M. can reveal.

The Wellcome Trust, whose £20.9bn portfolio includes stakes in Apple, Facebook and Berkshire Hathaway, owns property worth £2.4bn, including 2,000 residential units in so-called prime central London.

Wellcome Trust made its offer in the days following the tragedy last month, after which 80 people are presumed dead. However, the homes it offered were deemed unsuitable by the council because they were in a block in Islington; it had promised to re-house those affected inside the Royal Borough.

Although the homes were offered to the council for free, it is also understood they were offered on a short-term basis, and therefore did not offer enough security for would-be tenants in the long term.

Since the offer, the government has announced a deal with Berkeley Group to buy 68 homes at its Kensington Row development, just off High Street Kensington, for victims.

However, last week it emerged just 14 of the 158 families made homeless by the fire had accepted offers of new homes. The news emerged on Wednesday, three weeks after the fire, on a deadline the government had set itself to rehouse the families.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Eleanor Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Grenfell Response Team (GRT) and the chief executive of Southwark Council, said families who had been offered as many as four temporary homes had turned down offers because they feared being left homeless.

"People don’t want to make two moves," she said. "They are looking for their permanent home.”

A council spokesman told City A.M.:“We are working very closely with all those affected by the fire to find suitable accommodation. If someone is not happy with any accommodation offered they do not have to accept it and we will redouble our efforts to find a home that meets their needs.

“The properties offered by the Wellcome Trust were in Islington and residents have told us they want to be placed locally. The government has committed to housing people in Kensington and Chelsea or neighbouring boroughs.”

Peter Pereira Gray, managing partner of the Wellcome Trust's investment division, confirmed it had made the offer, but did not comment further.

Read more: Why kicking developers won't fix problems highlighted by Grenfell Tower

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