Two Westminster academics comment on the Grenfell Tower fire

Planning, Housing and Urban Design; Property and Construction; Transport and Logistics 6 July 2017

Grenfell fire

As housing, schools and hospitals continue to fail fire safety checks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, two Westminster academics analyse how such a situation could have arisen.

In a piece for the Housing Studies Association website, Dr Tony Manzi, a Reader in Planning and Transport, identifies deregulation, radical outsourcing, and austerity as key to understanding the causes of the fire, and challenges the reasoning behind each. He argues that the disaster is but one negative symptom of an underlying neoliberal ideology, and hopes that the event can at least give cause for pause in this trend.

Duncan Bowie, a Senior Lecturer in Planning and Transport, writes in The Conversation that the Grenfell Tower fire is the result of a series of political failures – of many governments. Mistakes include the ‘arms length’ outsourcing of the management of social housing, a lack of responsiveness to the concerns of tenants, building regulations not being as tough as in other countries, cost-cutting and a failure to listen to expert warnings on fire risks. He also warns against the building of high-rise accommodation in the future, both in private or social housing, noting that there is a continued enthusiasm for doing so in London.

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