Church Grove / RUSS - Ladywell, London, UK

33 community-led, low-energy self-build homes for a Community Land Trust (CLT) on a challenging brownfield site in the London Borough of Lewisham.
c. £8.6million project budget / with Jon Broome Architects.

Led by the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS), this development will establish a sustainable neighbourhood of 33 low-energy, community-run homes on a vacant site in Ladywell, south-east London, currently owned by the local authority. The project sets out to involve residents in the design, construction and long-term management of their homes from the start, in order to sow the seeds of a resilient future neighbourhood.

The aim is to provide high quality, truly affordable homes which will require little or no energy to run - and to create a sustainable community where there are opportunities to grow food and recycle waste and water. There will be space for community activity and opportunities for education and training throughout the life of the project.

The project aims to support a mixed community of different incomes and ages - and will build homes that vary in size and tenure, including larger shared-ownership and social rented homes for families currently over-occupying dwellings, as well as co-housing flats for older people down-sizing and shared homes available at affordable rents for young people struggling to house themselves in the private market. Each resident will have the opportunity to self-build as much of their home as possible in order to keep development costs - and therefore purchase prices - low.

The site is incredibly challenging, involving flood mitigation, decontamination and complicated access constraints. The accommodation is arranged in two 4-storey buildings facing south with a green corridor along the river as required by The Environment Agency.

Working with RUSS leaders, architects Architype, current project managers Local Agenda and financial advisers Triodos Corporate Finance, JBA worked as project facilitators and client adviser to help the client organise, secure funding and develop a project brief, before recruiting a Residents Group and conducting a co-design process to develop design proposals and submit a planning application.

The project has involved the successful negotiation of an OJEU-compliant competitive dialogue public tender process as well as significant fundraising efforts that include crowd-funding and social investment alongside senior and subordinate bank debt.

The project is scheduled to start on site in summer 2018 and complete in 2020.

RUSS has been fortunate to benefit from the input of a full Project Team in developing its proposals for Church Grove, including BringellyChance De Silva, AppraisallTrowers & Hamlins, Ritchie+Daffin, Rodrigues Associates, Gordon HutchinsonLichfields and WYG in addition to those mentioned above.