33 self-built homes to be constructed in Ladywell

RUSS volunteers Pic: Warwick Sweeney

A crowd-funding campaign has been launched to raise money for the construction of 33 new self-built homes in Ladywell.

The Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS), a volunteer-led Community Land Trust, wants to build London’s first training facility for self-builders on dilapidated land that the council has reserved for an affordable housing initiative.

The centre in Church Grove will double as a community space with clubs and workshops for self-builders who use recyclable materials ranging from timber to straw. RUSS says it will serve as “a knowledge hub for community-led housing and sustainable living.”

Lewisham Council approved a housing development agreement with RUSS last April and the group said they will apply for planning permissions by the end of the summer.

So far RUSS has fundraised £4,500 of its £57,000 goal for the recyclable materials needed to build the training centre. A spokesperson for the group said that they hope to begin construction of the homes in 2018 after the training facility is complete.

Kareem Dayes, RUSS’ Chair, said the project will continue Lewisham’s legacy of innovation and self-suffiency.

“Lewisham has a history of self-building. In 1985 a group of council tenants with no previous building experience built their own homes on land provided by Lewisham Council.

“They were led by architect Water Segal who developed a simple and cost-effective building design that anyone could self-build,” said Dayes.

This project aims to introduce affordable housing to the community amidst increasing rent prices in London.

Tenants in the new homes will be selected through a screening process that determines if prospective buyers have a local connection to the Lewisham community and if they are in need of affordable housing.

Megan Ancliffe, an architect who designed the training centre said: “The project would offer people the opportunity to get hands-on experience of building. The structure will showcase different natural building techniques such as timber, straw bale and rammed earth”.

“We intend to source materials locally so that we support the local economy. We also aim to use as many reclaimed and recycled materials as we can and we’re interested in experimenting with off-grid technologies such as rain water collection.”

The volunteer-built houses will range from one to four bedroom properties and will be dually owned by the new tenants and RUSS.

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