Mayor of London backs self-build homes initiative

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has awarded a circa £1 million sum to the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) as it strives to deliver affordable homes for local residents and workers.

In total, the Lewisham-based Community Land Trust received £988,000 via the Mayor’s Innovation Fund. This will facilitate construction of 33 affordable homes on Church Grove in Ladywell – a site previously gifted to RUSS by Lewisham Council. Five homes will be allocated by the council itself, while RUSS will retain 20% equity in the remaining 28 properties. This measure is essential as it ensures the homes cannot be sold on the open market. They will only ever be transferred to members on the RUSS waiting list.

The homes themselves, which range from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom homes, will be partly self-built by residents, RUSS members, apprentices and volunteers from the wider community. This grassroots approach will reduce construction costs and provide much-needed ‘on the job’ training to those involved. Residents will also be given a say as to how their homes are designed and built, creating a bespoke development that reflects the needs and diverse backgrounds of the people living there.

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

The Mayor of London said: “To tackle the capital’s housing crisis, we need to think beyond large developers – councils, small builders, and community groups must play a vital role too. Community-led housing puts residents at the heart of the process, giving them a voice and the chance to contribute to designing their community.”

RUSS Co-Chair Anurag Verma added: “To take the project from planning stage to start on site requires a significant injection of development finance and support. The people we are aiming to house are all on modest incomes, 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. We are hugely grateful for the Mayor’s generous support.”

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