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‘Build It Yourself’ Housing Approved for Lewisham by Council

Lewisham council has approved plans for a housing project that will provide a small group of residents with the opportunity to build their own homes in Ladywell.

The aim of the project is to construct 33 high-quality yet sustainable homes on the site in Church Grove where Watergate School was once located. The development will be overseen by a Community Land Trust organisation known as the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS).

RUSS founder Kareem Dayes called the news “fantastic”. He said that after five years of planning, RUSS is ready to assist in the real work of building a community that is both sustainable and affordable in Lewisham.

Mr Dayes added that the goal is to establish a model in community-driven housing that is replicable and will produce quality homes for the good of the community.

The project is set to construct one-bedroom or four-bedroom homes, depending on what the buyer prefers.

The Department of Work and Pensions provided data from 2013 that revealed that over a third of privately rented Lewisham homes are forced to claim Local Housing Allowance that matches the highest of all boroughs in inner London.

Steve Tuner, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) Director of Communications, praised the undertaking but added that self-building was not really a mainstream solution to the housing shortfall in the UK. The HBF is a federation that works on housing issues and policies with government officials.

Mr Tuner added that London needs more new housing desperately, and any program that produces new homes must be welcomed.


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Emma Gittus, Project Manager of house association Network Housing Group, was unable to confirm exactly how much the properties would go for, but estimated that they would cost no more than 80% of the current market rate.

Ms. Gittus added that local residents will be able to devote as much or little time as they want to actually building the homes, so those who work full-time or have families will not have to put in extra hours. The foundation, gas, and electric will be installed by professionals but the buyers will be able to carry out nearly all other tasks.

Mr Dayes spent his childhood in Walters Way, a self-build street created in Honour Oak during the late 1970s. He encouraged the community to join RUSS and help bring the project to fruition.

He said that RUSS looks forward to the ongoing development of its community-based partnerships to create a living space that everyone can be proud of.

The self-build scheme will contribute to the New Homes, Better Places programme, which is expected to develop at least 500 rentable homes in Lewisham by 2018.

Cllr Damien Egan, Lewisham’s Cabinet Member for Housing, called the initiative an exciting one that is in accord with cooperative housing principles. It demonstrates that the need for housing can be addressed in many ways.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 201, with the projected completion date being in 2020.


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