Press release – 8 June:


The most innovative low cost self-build housing project ever undertaken in London has taken a huge step forward with the formal granting of planning permission. Last night Lewisham Council approved the plans for the 33-home project. The scheme will cost £8.6m and will be built on a one-acre site at the end of Church Grove, in Ladywell, Lewisham.

The project has been initiated by an 800-strong local community organisation – the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) – and construction is expected to begin late in 2018 or early 2019. Over the last few years RUSS has worked closely with Lewisham Council to progress the scheme to this stage.

The homes have been designed to create an uplifting, social and healthy place to live – with good views, daylight and ventilation. The residents can customise the outside of their homes on the south and east facing elevations. Credit: ©Architype

The homes range from one to four-bedroom properties. Fourteen of the properties will be available on a shared equity basis; 12 homes will be shared ownership; six rooms across two shared homes will be for affordable rent, and five of the homes will be for social rent (with the occupiers nominated by Lewisham Council).

The cost of the homes will be much lower than equivalent properties. RUSS has achieved this by: –

  • Working in partnership with Lewisham Council to facilitate the site on a 250 year lease. The land will be held in a Community Land Trust, so the homes will be valued based mainly on the value of the building; not the building and the land.
  • The residents have had the homes designed so they are simple and cost effective to build. It is also proposed that they will do some of the construction work themselves, bringing the costs down further.

All this means that residents are predicted to be able to buy a 25% stake in a typical one-bedroom home from just £77,500. The monthly rent on the home would then be £429 (reduced by £104 per month because of the resident’s contribution to the building work); a three-bedroom shared ownership home is anticipated to cost £141,000 (for a 25% stake) with a monthly rent of £763 (reduced by £208 per month because of the resident’s input during the building stages).

In addition, because the homes have been designed to be highly energy efficient, their running costs will also be much lower than equivalent new properties. This will further reduce the overall cost of occupying one of the homes. All the properties have already been reserved for local people who meet the project’s affordability criteria.

Lewisham’s Mayor Damien Egan is a supporter of the project. In 2017 he said: “Lewisham has a radical housing tradition and RUSS’s self-build Community Land Trust builds on that history. Most importantly this is a development that will keep homes affordable in perpetuity.”

RUSS Co-chair Anurag Verma said: “We’re delighted to have secured planning permission. It’s been a long journey, but after eight years of community effort, huge levels of support from Lewisham Council, the GLA and many other bodies this is a really important milestone. Our members have worked tirelessly to get here; and we are now confident that we can achieve our dream of delivering genuinely affordable community-led neighbourhoods right across London. This is the first of, we hope, many similar projects.”

The homes should be completed in 2020. The architects for the project are Architype.


A selection of high resolution images are available – see below.

Press Image 1 – Church Grove project residents group at site (hi-res)

Press images set 2–  Church Grove project designs as shown below (hi-res)

The homes have been designed to encourage neighbourhood interaction. External walkways provide spaces for shared and private gardens; with louvres and planting along the walkways to provide natural screening. Credit: ©Architype

The homes are arranged in two three and four storey blocks on either side of a shared open space, and the blocks are connected by planted walkways at second and third floor level. The entrance can be shared by residents and the wider community. Credit: ©Architype

A biodiverse landscape will sit between the building and the Ravensbourne river with a nature trail, pockets of edible planting, and informal playspaces. Credit: ©Architype