A memorial garden where survivors can “remember together” looks likely to be created at the site of Grenfell Tower.
Seventy-two people died when fire engulfed the residential tower block in North Kensington, west London, in June 2017.
No decision has been made about the future of the tower, which is currently covered in a protective wrap which shows a green heart and the message “Forever in our hearts”, but the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission said a garden was “by far” the most popular idea from a survey of survivors, bereaved relatives, and local residents.
A monument or museum could also be installed on the site.
“The Tower itself is a sacred place, but it is currently cordoned off so that the building can be kept safe,” the commission said in a report published on Monday.
“Our bereaved families each remember in their own ways, but they don’t yet have a peaceful place where they can all come together to grieve.”
The report added: “It’s often easier to live with difficult memories when you can give them an appropriate time and place, and if you don’t feel alone.
“Our survivors don’t yet have a peaceful place where they can choose to go to remember together.”
What happens to the tower itself is the Government’s decision, but the report said, if it is taken down, materials from the block will be made available for use in the memorial if that is what the community requests.
It has already been agreed that the unidentified remains of anyone who died can also be laid to rest at the memorial site.
The commission, which will make its final recommendation next year, said a covenant will protect the site from any use which goes against the community’s wishes. Housing is not being considered as an option for the site due to opposition, especially from bereaved families.
A design team for the final memorial is expect to be selected by spring 2024 and work may begin by the end of that year.
Around 2,000 people were surveyed for the report, including around 100 bereaved family members and survivors.
Almost two-thirds (64%) said they would like the memorial to include a garden, a third (33%) would like it to include artwork or a monument and one in 10 (10%) wanted to incorporate a building such as a museum or a sheltered space.
Other popular ideas included water features, a place to sit and an area for children.
The Memorial Commission includes 10 community representatives who said “much progress” had been made – although the work was far from complete, adding: “We will never forget. And we hope to create a beautiful and peaceful place where we can come and remember together.”
The commission’s co-chairs are solicitor Thelma Stober, who was injured in the 7/7 terrorist attacks, and Michael Lockwood who ran the independent team who kept the tower safe and stabilised the building immediately after the fire. He is now director general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
In a joint statement, they said: “Our role is to ensure that what happened at Grenfell is never forgotten.
“We know that everyone affected by the Grenfell tragedy needs a memorial that is special, where they can come together, and which will stand the test of time.
“Today’s report is a huge step forward. It reflects the incredible amount of work undertaken by of all the community representatives on the Memorial Commission, and of all the bereaved families, survivors and local residents involved over the past two years.
“This has not been an easy task, and the whole community has our profound admiration and full support.”