A campaign by residents to build 33 homes in Ladywell has taken a vital step forward following the signing of a conditional land agreement by the Mayor of Lewisham.
The Rural Urban Synthesis Society, which plans to create housing funded and built by residents, hopes the project in Church Grove can begin in January 2018.
The development will also provide construction apprenticeships and training opportunities for local people.
Kareem Dayes, founder and chair of RUSS, said: “We are going to build affordable and sustainable housing in Lewisham. Prices in London are high and so there are unique difficulties in making this work.
“Local councils are under pressure to sell assets for maximum value to balance the books but by working with us the benefits for the area in the long term will outweigh any nominal cash raised upfront.
“Dealing with sustainable communities where people can afford their housing is going to have a massive impact on the locality.”
Soaring rents and poor quality housing are a direct result of housing market deregulation, according to local architect Jon Broome: “Housing tends to be better regulated on the continent.
“Rent controls which used to exist in the UK are still in place over most of Europe and so the cost of rent and the quality of rented accommodation is much better because of the regulation that exists.”
There are 170 community land trusts in England and Wales according to the National Community Land Trust Network. The CLT concept started in the US in the 1960s and now has movements in Europe and Australia.
This is the first construction project for RUSS, a community land trust. Its long-term aim is to redress housing inequality by creating affordable shared-ownership properties that residents have helped to fund and build. The outcome of its planning application is expected in August.
Dayes continued: “In an environment where all housing is being sold off and people are being forced to move it’s really valuable to have housing stock that is locked into the community.”
All 33 properties in Church Grove were allocated to RUSS members in a lottery-style process earlier this year. Residents who want to join the waiting list for a property or would like to be involved can join RUSS for just £1.