New “build-it-yourself” housing approved

Building site Pic:

Building site Pic: (Creative Commons)

A handful of local residents will get the chance to build their own homes in Ladywell after Lewisham council approved plans for a new housing project.

The project aims to build 33 “high quality sustainable homes” on the Church Grove site where Watergate School once stood. Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS), a Community Land Trust organization, will oversee the development.

Kareem Dayes, RUSS founder, said: “This is fantastic news. After five years of planning we are set to begin the real work of building a truly affordable and sustainable community in the heart of Lewisham.”

“We aim to establish a replicable model in community-led housing that will deliver top quality homes for the benefit of the community.”

The project is looking to build one-bed and four-bed properties depending on the buyer’s preferences.

Data provided by the Department of Work and Pensions from 2013 showed that over a third of privately rented homes in Lewisham are forced to claim Local Housing Allowance which is the highest of all Inner-London boroughs.

Steve Tuner, Director of Communications of the Home Builders Federation (HBF), a federation which works closely with government officials on housing issues and policies,  praised the project but pointed out that self-building was not a “mainstream solution” to the shortfall.

“London desperately needs more new homes and any scheme that adds to the housing numbers must be welcomed,” he added.

Emma Gittus, Project Manager of Network Housing Group, a house association, could not confirm the exact pricing but said properties will cost no more than 80 per cent of the market rate and “hopefully lower”.

Gittus added that residents will be allowed to contribute as much or as little time as they want to the actual build, so those with full time jobs or children will not be forced to put in the extra hours. Professionals must install the foundation, gas and electric but the buyers will be able to do nearly everything else.

Dayes, who grew up in Walters Way, a self-build street constructed in Honor Oak during the late 1970s, encouraged the local community to become a member of RUSS and help “participate in the realisation of the project”.

“We look forward to the continued development of our partnerships within the community to create a space we can all be proud of.”, he added.

The self-build will contribute towards Lewisham Council’s New Homes, Better Places programme, which plans to develop at least 500 homes for rent by 2018.

Councillor Damien Egan, Lewisham’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is an exciting initiative that follows co-operative housing principles. It shows that there are many ways in which we can creatively address our housing need.”

“Lewisham were pioneers of self-build housing in the 1980s and we’re proud to welcome a new generation of self-builders.”

Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2017 with the aim of being completed by 2020.

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