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Construction begins on London's largest self-build community housing project

A community-led housing group in Lewisham has begun construction of 36 permanently affordable new homes – the largest project of its kind ever undertaken in London.

The Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) formally launched the scheme last night at a breaking ground ceremony in Ladywell, Lewisham, with the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, and Cllr Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, both in attendance.

The new homes, available to local people who meet the scheme’s affordability criteria, will be high-quality, sustainable and permanently affordable to future generations of tenants and buyers, with no developer profit being made and a resale covenant in place to maintain affordability. The building work is due to be completed in 2023.

A range of property sizes and tenure types, including six social homes for residents on Lewisham Council’s housing waiting list, will help to create a diverse resident community. The project includes communal food-growing and gardening spaces, a shared laundry and a publicly accessible playground. A Community Hub, built by nearly 100 volunteers in 2019, stands alongside the new homes and will serve as an affordable, eco-friendly work and events space for the local community.

The scheme was co-designed by a group of the future residents working alongside expert architects - residents will also have the opportunity to build it alongside local apprentices and volunteers. Funding for the scheme has come from a combination of sources including grants from the GLA and loans from Triodos Bank UK, Big Issue Invest and CAF Venturesome. The scheme has also been supported by Lewisham Council, who leased the land to RUSS.

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said:

“At a time when many people in Lewisham are struggling with a broken housing market, it is fantastic to see work begin on this community-led housing project, delivering permanently affordable homes for local residents and new social homes for families on our housing waiting list.

“We’re proud to be supporting RUSS with the land for this scheme, as part of our commitment to tackling the housing crisis in Lewisham, and I look forward to seeing residents move into their new homes in 2023.”

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