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London community land trust's £1m boost to self-build homes

A community group in south London has been given a funding boost of almost £1 million to self-build affordable homes for local residents.

The Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) is a community land trust based in Lewisham. With the £988,000 grant from the Mayor of London’s Innovation Fund, RUSS will build 33 homes on Church Grove in Ladywell in the borough.

Tailored to occupants’ needs

Lewisham Council had gifted the site to the trust in 2016, and the council will be allowed to allocate five properties once they are completed. RUSS will retain at least 20 percent equity in the remaining 28 properties to ensure they are not sold on the open market and instead transferred to members on its waiting list.

The homes will range from one-bed flats to four-bed homes. Each will be tailored to occupants’ needs, giving residents a say in how the homes are designed. The homes will also be partly self-built by residents, RUSS members, apprentices and local volunteers to reduce construction costs and help with training in construction skills.

Residents at heart of process

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set a target of having at least 1,000 homes delivered through community-led housing schemes by 2021.

Mr Khan 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.

 “This is exactly the type of project my Innovation Fund was created to support.”

RUSS co-chair Anurag Verma added: The grant from the Mayor’s Innovation Fund been a real game-changer for us. We have moved one step closer to achieving our vision of building an affordable and sustainable community at Church Grove.”

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