The Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) is a member-led, not for profit, Community Land Trust based in south London, founded in 2009 with the aim of creating sustainable community-led neighbourhoods and truly affordable homes right across London. RUSS was established to empower residents – from design and construction to management of their homes and the integration of these into the wider community.

RUSS has built 36 new flats at 12 Church Grove in Ladywell. The flats are spacious open-plan designs, with lift access to all floors, space for plants outside each flat and shared gardens.

A new community

The future residents of 12 Church Grove are a mixture of ages and backgrounds, employment and income, all linked by a connection to Lewisham communities. Living here offers residents a chance to get involved with managing maintenance, gardening and social activities. Some residents have been involved in the construction process since January 2023, and others will join to help build bike and bin stores, finish off flats and communal areas, and plant and look after the gardens.

You can find out more about RUSS and its guiding principles here.

Future residents breaking the soil at the start of the construction project

About the flats

The flats at Church Grove range in size from 1-bedroom to 4-bedroom. There are flats for rent, for sale and for shared ownership. Six flats are available for rent through nominations from Lewisham Council: four 1-bedroom flats, and two 2-bedroom flats. Two of these are designed for wheelchair users.

The flats are spacious with large windows and an open-plan kitchen and living space. There is space for plants and a table and chairs on the deck outside each flat. They are very well insulated, with electric heating and ventilation, and communal hot water.

Volunteers having lunch in the community hub after a morning painting and decorating

Communal facilities include:

  • A laundry with washing machines and driers
  • A guest room that can be booked by residents
  • Shared gardens next to the river with play area for children
  • Space for growing food together
  • Bike storage
  • The Hub: a meeting room for residents, hot desk space for freelance work, and available for hire by local community organisations.

What’s nearby?

Church Grove is a short walk from Ladywell train station and Lewisham High Street, with many buses stopping nearby. Ladywell has lots of shops and cafes, while Lewisham offers a busy shopping centre and street market. Ladywell Fields and Hilly Fields are a short walk away.

Designed for a low-carbon future

  • Solar panels on the roof generate electricity for the project
  • An air source heat pump provides metred hot water to every flat
  • Highly insulated flats mean lower fuel bills
  • Smart meters and high-speed broadband for home working
  • Raised beds for food growing and hanging baskets for every flat
  • Rainwater harvesting to water butts on each floor
  • Electric car charging points
  • Cycle storage


Can I bring my car?

The flats at 12 Church Grove are designed to be car free, because of the excellent public transport links and easy access on foot to local shops and facilities. Please note that Lewisham Council will not allow residents to apply for a parking permit under local controlled parking schemes. There are three unallocated ‘blue badge’ spaces shared between residents, visitors and users of the hub.

What will the costs be?

The rent is London Affordable Rent as defined by the GLA. In 2022-23, that was £168.34 for a one-bed and £178.23 for a two-bed flat. The service charge is currently being calculated in detail. At the moment (July 2023) we expect it to be around £829 a year for a one-bed and £1173 for a two-bed flat. There is no ground rent.

Do I have to be a member of RUSS to live here?

Residents are expected to be members of the RUSS Community Land Trust. Becoming a member is easy and involves buying a share (minimum £1). This gives you the right to vote at the AGM and have a full say in RUSS decisions. Full details here.

Can I get involved in building work?

Yes, we welcome volunteers, for both practical and admin work. Everyone can get involved – whether you already know you want to live at Church Grove or are making up your mind whether to apply, or if you just want to help make the vision a reality. Contact to discuss what’s happening and when.

About the RUSS

RUSS is powered and directed by its members. The organisation currently has 1,000 people who want to contribute to our vision of enabling people to create new affordable neighbourhoods across London. We welcome thoughts, ideas and contributions from everyone. Join here or email with any questions.

Plans of the flats can be downloaded below

Flat 1
Flat 15
Bedroom during decoration