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£1m boost for Architype self-build housing scheme in Lewisham

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The mayor of London has awarded almost £1 million to a ‘self-build’ housing scheme in south-east London designed by Architype 

Lewisham Council approved the London-based practice’s plans for Church Grove, co-designed with a Lewisham-based Community Land Trust, in June.

The Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) has now received £988,000 from the Mayor’s Innovation Fund to build 33 homes on the 0.4ha site which was gifted by the council in 2016.

The homes will be partly self-built by residents, RUSS members, apprentices, and volunteers in order to reduce construction costs, with training in construction skills provided as part of the grant.

Five of the homes will be allocated by Lewisham Council while RUSS will retain at least 20 per cent equity in the remaining 28 properties, ensuring they cannot be sold on the open market and will only ever be transferred on to members on the RUSS waiting list.

Architype associate director James Todd said: ‘We are delighted that the Greater London Authority has chosen to demonstrate its support for community-led housing in London by helping to fund the Church Grove project.

‘Architype has been working closely with RUSS and the residents group to develop the proposals through a co-design process and we are really excited to take this collaboration forward through technical design and then on to site with the self-builders next year.’

RUSS co-chair Anurag Verma said the funding was a ‘real game changer’ and took the trust another step closer to building an affordable and sustainable community.

‘The people we are aiming to house are all on modest incomes,’ he said, ‘and it would be impossible for them to stump up hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for the technical consultant’s fees, the numerous surveys, soil tests and everything else that we have to fund prior to starting to build the homes.’

Sadiq Khan has set a new target to identify a pipeline of community-led housing schemes by 2021, with the capacity to deliver at least 1,000 homes.

He said: ’Community-led housing puts residents at the heart of the process, giving them a voice and the chance to contribute to designing their community.

‘This is exactly the type of project my Innovation Fund was created to support, and I’m delighted we could help RUSS members in delivering much-needed high-quality social and other genuinely affordable homes.’

The mayor has also funded a new London Community-led Housing Hub, which provides information and advice, capacity building, and technical support for communities wishing to develop their own homes.

The London Community Land Trust (CLT) is also planning to build community-led housing on two sites brought forward by Transport for London.

CLT homes are priced pegged to local earnings, with contracts ensuring that all residents have to sell the home to the next household again at a price also linked to local earnings.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Very good news - but this sort of initiative in London still seems to be far too much like 'crying in the wilderness' in a febrile climate where the profession seems to be paying too much attention to architectural quirkiness - at all scales - at the risk of giving the vast majority of people the impression that it's in thrall to architectural aberration for lack of really fresh, constructive thinking.
    The pity of it is that some of the aberration does indeed include valuable fresh thinking - but you might not know it.

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  • Clare Richards

    As much noise as possible must be made about RUSS’s formula and this well-deserved result for Church Grove. If it can work here it can work elsewhere and become an exemplar for others to follow. The ingredients? Community-driven, by volunteers; committed/proactive local authority; community land trust; collaborative design process led by excellent architect; self-build, with training provided; committed to sharing expertise; locally affordable, in perpetuity. This is a great demonstration of the social design principles required to create 100,000 new homes a year. Good for the Mayor.

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