RUSS Church Grove Plans

RUSS, the Rural Urban Synthesis Society, is volunteer-led Community Land Trust working to deliver its first community homes project in Lewisham, London. A core part of its ethos is the delivery of training for other communities through its RUSS School of Community-led Housing.

The school offers individuals, community groups and housing professionals the chance to learn from RUSS’s experiences of bringing on community-led housing projects.

Currently RUSS is working to deliver Church Grove in London (main picture), a community self build project of 33 new sustainable, customised homes in Ladywell. As well as the school, the build phase of Church Grove will include training opportunities for local apprentices and would-be self builders.

Community-led housing is a way for local communities to address their housing needs by building their own decent and affordable homes, offering a viable alternative for those whose housing needs are not met by the mainstream housing market.

The school attempts to answer the questions of how communities can organise and access community-led housing, including setting up, and maintaining a group, sourcing land, organising finance and negotiating with local authorities?

Setting up a community-led housing project

The School offers a range of modules featuring workshops that are interactive, with exercises designed to stimulate discussion around the issues of community-led housing, offering the opportunity to learn from RUSS’s experiences so far.

The workshops also are a great opportunity to meet others interested in joining or forming community housing groups.

RUSS has developed 2 workshop modules so far – Module 1 and Module 2, and it also hosts talks and site visits.

Module 1: How to set up a community-led housing project is running from Saturday, 9th March 2019. 10am to 4pm

The one-day workshop takes place at Borough, London, and costs £20-25, excluding lunch.

Venue: CDS Co-operatives, 7-14 Great Dover Street, London SE1 4YR

The format is informal, classroom style, allowing easy interaction and discussion.

Module 1 is an entry-level workshop that supports individuals and groups wanting to set up a community-led housing project, find out more about community-led housing in general and RUSS’s own story.

Topics include:

  • Creating a group – finding people who share your vision
  • Organising – networking and building your membership
  • Land – where to find it
  • Local authorities – how to work with them
  • Finance
  • Communications
  • Crowdfunding
  • Ongoing networking

Who is Module 1 suitable for?

  • Individuals or groups looking for an affordable home solution
  • Individuals or groups wanting to develop a community-led housing project/campaign
  • Individuals or groups looking for a community-led housing solution for a specific area
  • Individuals or groups curious about community-led housing, CLTs etc
  • Individuals or groups curious about self-build
  • Council staff and consultants wanting to know more about community-led housing
  • Students and Architects interested in affordable housing, self-build, housing economics, community

Additional community-led housing support

Anyone wanting to find out more about community-led housing should visit the websites of UK Cohousing, and the National CLT Network, or the new Community-led Homes site. In addition the Right to Build Task Force has lots of help and advice for groups, such as case studies like New Ground and Vrijburcht, and is also able to help community-led housing groups with direct support, available at a discounted rate.

Anyone considering building should first sign up to their local custom and self build registers at the Right to Build Portal, to alert the council to the fact they want to build – you sign up as individuals but also as a group.

Read more about RUSS’s ambitions for its trainging hub:

RUSS granted planning for training Hub and Self Build housing

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