Community Self Build Evening Talks

London's leading self build groups unveils programme of evening talks
by Build It magazine
9th January 2019

Community self build group RUSS has announced a series of evening talks aimed at promoting this route.

The Community Land Trust secured planning permission last year to build 33 homes in Lewisham. The scheme was conceived as a solution to the growing needs of Lewisham residents to access good quality, affordable homes. The group was involved throughout the design and planning stages, and intends to carry out some work on site.

“RUSS also gained planning consent to set up the Ladywell Self Build Community Space on site,” says Ted Stevens. “This will be a training hub so that the residents are equipped with the right skills to take this project forward.”

Read more: The Community Self Build Legacy in Lewisham

Evening talks programme

Wednesday 16 January: Join in to find out about architect Walter Segal and the unique self build housing projects in Lewisham in the 1980s.

Alice Grahame – author of Walters Way and Segal Close: The Architect Walter Segal and London’s Self-Build Community – will explain how the original Walters Way self build project came about.

Alice will be joined by Kareem Dayes, who grew up in Walters Way. Kareem went on to set up RUSS, and he has been the driving force behind RUSS’s current project in Church Grove, which is due to start on site later this year.

Wednesday 20 February: Ted Stevens will deliver a slide presentation looking at a number of innovative group self build projects that have been built around the world.

Ted was the founding chair of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) and he spent two years touring Europe visiting community-led housing projects. His presentation will include examples from France, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Uruguay and the USA. He will also showcase several recent UK schemes. Ted is now a Trustee of RUSS.

RUSS community self build project in London

RUSS community self build project in London

Wednesday 20 March: Another of RUSS’s Trustees, architect Megan Ancliffe will talk about the Community Hub building that will be constructed as the first phase of RUSS’ new Church Grove development.

The hub will be built by volunteers and is designed along Segal principles. Finance for the hub came from a crowd-funding initiative that was supported by more than 300 people.

The building will showcase a number of construction techniques, including walls made from straw bales and rammed earth.  This talk will take place just before construction starts on the hub.

Wednesday 17 April: RUSS is organising a talk about community gardening. This will be delivered by Malcolm Cadman from Deptford’s John Evelyn Community Garden.

The Garden is one of the main initiatives run by the Pepys Community Forum – a local regeneration not-for-profit organisation aiming to create an empowered multi-cultural community in Deptford through training for employment, enterprise and green projects. The forum is 100% led and managed by local people. Malcolm has been its chair for many years.

Where & how to attend

The venue for all the talks is the Café of Good Hope at PLACE/Ladywell (261 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6NJ). The closest station is Ladywell.

Each event starts at 7pm and is scheduled to end around 8.30pm.

The talks are open to anyone. They are free to RUSS members; a small donation towards the cost of the room hire would be appreciated from non-members that can afford it.

RUSS Co-Chair Kwame Lowe-Benjamin said he was especially keen to attract local people to the talks and to get their thoughts on how the organisation might develop in the future.

“We want to hear about the issues and ideas that are important to local people so that we can make RUSS a truly community-led movement, as we seek to build sustainable neighbourhoods and genuinely affordable homes in Lewisham and beyond,” he said.

RUSS workshop for self build groups

The group has also launched a workshop to help self build communities successfully navigate planning permission.

The workshop is a great opportunity for individuals or groups that are planning similar projects to learn more about the processes. Architects, housing professionals and other consultants involved in advising community led housing groups are likely to benefit from the workshop, too.

Attendees will learn how RUSS formed and its membership structure; how it developed its vision for the project and how the RUSS model works. At the end of the workshop, self builders will understand how to undertake an appraisal for a community project to check whether it’s viable and affordable.

The workshop takes place on Saturday 26th January. Find full details of the programme for this workshop on the eventbrite page.

For further information about the evening talks contact RUSS Trustee Kwame Lowe-Benjamin on 07919 117860 or email on kwame@theruss.org.

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