Lewisham opens community-designed affordable housing

Affordable housing was created following a thorough co-design process with residents and members from the local community in the London borough of Lewisham.

By City Monitor Staff

Lewisham Citizens, a local people campaign group, has achieved a decade-long goal of constructing 11 affordable homes for the community. These homes are situated at Citizens House, which is the first community land trust (CLT) in London directly created by the community, in collaboration with London CLT, Lewisham Council, and the Greater London Authority.

Citizens House. (Photo by French + Tye)

The project involved the transformation of an underused garage site into affordable homes for local residents. The unique affordability model, developed by London CLT, links home prices to the average income in Lewisham, making the two-bedroom priced at £272,500 and one-bedroom at £215,000, which is approximately 5% of the market price for homes in the same neighbourhood.

As a result, local people who would otherwise be priced out of their communities can now afford to buy homes. Moreover, when residents choose to sell their homes, they must do so at prices linked to local incomes, ensuring that the homes remain permanently affordable for generations to come.

Families move into Lewisham’s Citizen House

Citizens House is now home to nine families who have recently moved in, with two more families in the process of moving. All residents have roots in Lewisham, including local teachers, artists, and NHS workers. To be eligible for one of the homes, the new residents had to demonstrate a serious housing need, show their involvement in their local community, have a strong five-year connection to the Borough of Lewisham, and have sufficient income and savings to obtain a mortgage.

London Community Land Trust, an organization that works with local residents and groups to deliver homes and community spaces across the city, is responsible for delivering these homes. CLTs are set up and run by ordinary people to design, develop and manage homes and other assets for local communities, acting as long-term stewards of the land.

This project began as a campaign by Lewisham Citizens, part of Citizens UK, a movement that empowers communities and local leaders to effect real change. Nearly 500 Lewisham residents have become members of London CLT, and local people have led the entire project, making all key decisions on the political campaign, land, home prices, design, planning and management.

Community members selected and collaborated with key partners, including BPM, Rooff and Archio, who were chosen by local residents through a “choose the architect” vote and a series of public workshops. Lewisham Council provided the land for the project, which forms part of their Building for Lewisham programme, delivering new social and affordable housing for local residents across the borough.

The total construction cost for Citizens House was £2.5m, with funding from various sources, including £1.1m in grants through the Mayor of London’s £38m Community Housing Fund, the Big Issue Invest London Housing Fund, supported by the Greater London Authority, and London CLT Community shareholders.

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