RUSS Plans Community Self-Build Centre

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Russ community self-build space

Community land trust RUSS has launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance its self-build community space. The new building would provide a knowledge hub for self-building, community-led housing and sustainable living on the site of its first housing scheme, in Ladywell, south east London.

All 33 of the community self-build’s dwellings were allocated to the trust’s members through a lottery-style process last year. They will be built to Passivhaus standards and remain affordable by having their rents linked to local incomes.

RUSS will provide opportunities for local people and volunteers to participate actively in a sustainable construction project through the building of the community space itself. During the two-three years it takes to complete the entire development, the centre will then offer a programme of talks, workshops and hands-on experience.

Lewisham has a history of self-build going back to 1985 when council tenants famously built their own homes with no previous building experience, led by architect Water Segal. The proposed community space will utilise the Segal timber frame building method together with natural materials such as timber and straw bale.

As well as funding, RUSS is also looking for individuals and companies who are willing to donate materials, and skilled volunteers to help out on site.

The initiative has already garnered support from other organisations. “RUSS has been at the forefront of efforts to build a community-led, sustainable solution to London’s housing crisis since they launched in 2009,” says a spokesperson from the National Community Land Trust Network. “This new hub reflects RUSS’s commitment both to supporting the wider community and to training new community housing groups, and will help the Church Grove site to thrive.”

Russ community self-build development

Map showing the proposed location of the community space within the Church Grove project

Images: courtesy of

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