Planning permission granted for London’s largest affordable self-build project

What’s been hailed as the largest low cost self-build housing project yet in London has been granted planning permission. Lewisham Council approved the plans for the 33 home project, and construction is expected to begin in late 2018 or early 2019. The scheme is set to cost £8.6m and will be built on a one acre site in Ladywell. The project has been initiated by an 800-strong local community organisation,

the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS). Over the last few years RUSS has worked closely with Lewisham Council to progress the scheme to this stage. The houses built will range from one to four bedrooms. Of the new properties, 14 will be available on a shared equity basis, 12 will be shared ownership, and five will be for social rent. The remaining two homes will be shared and see a total of six rooms offered for affordable rent. The properties have already been reserved for local people who meet the project’s affordability criteria.

RUSS has worked in partnership with Lewisham Council to facilitate the site on a 250 year lease. The land will be held in a Community Land Trust so the homes will be valued based on the value of just the building and not the land. The residents have had the homes designed so they are simple and cost effective to build. It is also proposed that they will do some of the construction work themselves. These factors mean that residents are predicted to be able to buy a 25 per cent stake in a typical one bedroom home from £77,500. The monthly rent on the home would be £429 (reduced by £104 per month because of the resident’s contribution to the building work). A three bedroom home is anticipated to cost £141,000 for a 25 per cent stake, with a monthly rent of £763, reduced by £208 per month.

House extensions to cost more after post-Brexit skills gap widens, firm warns

Construction Insure is warning homeowners that the cost of extending their houses could rocket due to Brexit, as a lack of skilled foreign workers causes insurers to increase the price of premiums. Industry experts from the company say high stamp duty rates and house

prices have made home improvements more popular than ever. But with more than 120,000 EU migrants currently working in UK construction – many in skilled positions – the firm says that the building industry is bracing itself for a possible “shockwave” if European workers choose the leave the country post-Brexit. Mark Herbert of Construction Insure claimed that the loss of thousands of skilled workers from the industry will increase risks for construction firms, leading to an inevitable increase in insurance costs. These costs are likely to be passed onto consumers along with other cost hikes as builders scramble to plug skills gaps. He said: “The UK construction industry relies heavily on EU migrants, particularly in London and the south east.” Herbert continued: “Many of these EU workers are employed in highly skilled roles and many in the industry are bracing themselves for the possibility of a huge skills gap if these professionals decide, or are compelled, to leave Britain following Brexit. What many in the industry fail to realise is that such an event would also have huge ramifications for their insurance costs as providers factor in the increased risks such skills gaps would present.” Research by the Construction Industry Training Board, IFF Research and the Institute of Employment Research at Warwick University, found one third of companies in the construction industry currently employ foreign workers.

july/august 2018


The National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has announced four new dates for its ‘The Right to Build Expo: Unlocking the potential of Custom and Self Build’.

These will be held in Fareham on 6 September, Cambridgeshire on 4 October, Warrington on 1 November and Leeds on 29 November. The expos, presented by NaCSBA in partnership with the Right to Build Task Force and Wood for Good are designed to help the self- and custom-build sector grow by sharing details of the latest community-led housing projects.

For more information visit


The Construction Products Association has teamed up with RIBA Publishing to produce up-to-date guidance for people undertaking loft conversions. The RIBA says the “easy-to-use” handbook will prove valuable to architects, builders and homeowners looking for knowledge on best practice and compliance with Building Regulations. It brings together crucial information for self-builders in a simple guide, covering some of the main considerations for a loft conversion including fire safety, windows, stairs, doors, and insulation.

The book is available to buy on the RIBA Bookshops website for £30 – to order your copy visit


After successfully passing through Parliament, reforms to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) regulations have come into effect.

Impacting both the Domestic and Non Domestic RHI schemes, the reforms redress payment eligibility and introduce new policies covering metering of heat pump performance, tariff guarantees and shared ground loops, as well as extending the RHI’s budget management mechanism until the end of 2020/21.

For more on what the reforms mean for ground source heat pump installers and owners, visit and search ‘RHI reforms’. 5

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