RUSS, an innovative community self-build group that aims to provide homes for those priced out of the housing market, has just been been named preferred bidder by Lewisham Council to deliver homes in Lewisham, South London. RUSS will develop a scheme of 30 new, high quality, sustainable homes on the site of an old school in Ladywell, Lewisham. This follows six years of work led by volunteers in the community to secure the bid.

The project will create a mixed community made up of people from diverse backgrounds. The development will include one-bedroom to four-bedroom homes, available on a range of tenures including social rent, affordable rent, shared equity and shared ownership. It will include properties aimed specifically at providing training opportunities through the construction of shared-flats for young people. The specific mix of properties and tenure will be tailored to suit the mix of residents that come forward for the scheme. People interested in the project will be able to get involved in the self-build process – and learn new skills – regardless of their skill level at the outset.

RUSS founder, Kareem Dayes, who grew up in Lewisham’s early self-build housing scheme in Walter’s Way in Honor Oak, said: “It is brilliant that RUSS has been chosen as preferred bidder. After five years of planning and negotiating we are now able to begin the real work of building a truly affordable and sustainable community We can now move a step closer to empowering local people to create an alternative to private ownership and private rented housing.

“We aim to establish a new precedent, a replicable model in community-led housing that will benefit people currently unable to access housing on the open market. As a Community Land Trust we invite all local people to get involved, become a member of RUSS and participate in the realisation of this project. People can get in touch via our website and come to our public meetings – and we’ll be opening for official expressions of interest soon.

“This project is one step of many towards creating a better housing market that offers people high quality sustainable homes that they can afford. Thank you to all the people who have supported RUSS over the years. We look forward to the continued development of our partnerships within the local community and Lewisham Council to create a space we can all be proud of.”

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. This is an aspirational, ambitious and affordable scheme from a passionate group who have got the local community behind them. Lewisham were pioneers of self-build housing in the 1980’s and we’re proud to welcome a new generation of self-builders.”

RUSS will now work with Lewisham Council to finalise the development agreement and lease by 2016. RUSS’s project team will facilitate the members, local community, neighbours and the council to bring forward a sustainable design. The target for starting on site is spring 2017 with a view to completing by 2020.