London’s Largest Self Build Scheme Granted Planning Permission

by Shona Jackson
11th June 2018

Plans for a pioneering community self build project in London have been given the green light by Lewisham Council.

Located in a one-acre site in Church Grove, Ladywell, the affordable housing scheme will include 33 properties and cost £8.6m to build.

The housing development is the biggest self build of its kind in London and was brought about by the efforts of the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS). The local community organisation of over 800 members worked closely with Lewisham Council to secure planning permission for the venture. Construction is expected to start in late 2018 or early 2019.

Housing options

Properties range from one to four-bed and include a variety of accommodation types:

  • 14 properties will be available on a shared equity basis
  • 12 homes will be offered as shared ownership
  • Six rooms across two shared homes will meet affordable rent requirements
  • Five of the properties will be allocated for social rent, as determined by Lewisham Council
Homes are arranged in two three and four storey blocks on either side of a shared open space. ©Architype
External walkways provide spaces for shared and private gardens with louvres and planting providing natural screening. ©Architype

How much does a home cost?

The Church Grove project aims to provide homes at lower costs than similar properties in the area. RUSS has struck a partnership with Lewisham Council to secure a 250-year lease on the plot, with the site being held in a Community Land Trust. This means the properties will be valued according to the worth of the building, not the combined total of the building and the land, as is usual practice.

Input from residents also helps to ensure the project remains affordable. Many homeowners have opted for simple, cost-effective designs, volunteering to undertake elements of the construction work themselves to further reduce costs.

Residents will have the opportunity to buy a 25% stake in a typical one-bedroom home from £77,500. The monthly rent on the property is then predicted to be £429.

A three-bedroom shared ownership home is anticipated to cost £141,000 for a 25% stake, with a monthly rent of £763. Rental figures include deductions made for the residents’ input during construction.

RUSS community self-build project in London

The scheme features an open space in the centre that can be shared by the residents and the wider community. Credit: ©Architype

Plans for the homes, drawn up by project architects Architype, are designed to create maximum energy efficiency and keep household costs to a minimum.

Local support

Lewisham’s Mayor Damien Egan is a supporter of the housing scheme. In 2017 he said: “Lewisham has a radical housing tradition and RUSS’s self build Community Land Trust builds on that history. Most importantly this is a development that will keep homes affordable in perpetuity.”

RUSS Co-chair Anurag Verma said: “We’re delighted to have secured planning permission. It’s been a long journey, but after eight years of community effort, huge levels of support from Lewisham Council, the GLA and many other bodies this is a really important milestone.

“Our members have worked tirelessly to get here; and we are now confident that we can achieve our dream of delivering genuinely affordable community-led neighbourhoods right across London. This is the first of, we hope, many similar projects.”

All of the available homes are reserved for local people who meet the scheme’s affordability criteria. The project is due for completion in 2020.

Top image: All digital visualisations of the Church Grove community self build have been created by Architype.

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