Christchurch Road, Lambeth
Young leaders from youth organisation The Advocacy Academy were at the forefront of the campaign, alongside leaders from local churches, schools, a synagogue and a mosque. Lambeth Citizens met with Cllr Matthew Bennett, the Cabinet Leader for Housing at the time and discussed with him how a community land trust in the area would help fulfill the urgent need for permanently and genuinely affordable housing in the borough. In March 2017, Citizens invited Cllr Bennett and the Leader of Lambeth Council Lib Peck to a Housing Assembly. After hearing testimonies about how the lack of decent housing was affecting people’s lives, Cllr Peck agreed to work with Citizens to find a community land trust site in Lambeth!
The group also took Lambeth councillors on a tour of the St Clements CLT, showing them how London Community Land Trust was already improving lives with well-built, affordable homes; and held an engagement morning in Brixton to explain CLTs to the public and canvass support.
The next step was to seek out a suitable site in the area, and so we held some local community walks, looking out for land which seemed to be available. One of the sites we found was a patch of scrubland on Brixton Hill, behind a fence and covered with litter and brambles, but looking promising. Some research revealed that it was owned by Transport for London (TfL). After the Second World War, it had been the site of pre-fab houses to accommodate people who’d lost their homes in the Blitz, but it had lain empty and unused for many years.
In November 2017, we participated in a Housing Assembly with Deputy Mayor for Housing James Murray, together with Citizens members from across the capital. Alongside demands about renting and about levels of affordable housing on new developments, we asked him to support ‘a presumption in favour of community land trusts on all GLA and TfL owned small sites’ starting with three small TfL sites including Brixton Hill! James Murray said yes.
In early 2018, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced that the derelict site in Lambeth, on Brixton Hill, would be put out to tender for community-led housing. This could be an amazing opportunity to provide homes for over 80 people, as well as opening up much-needed green space for the whole community. Lambeth Citizens has been working with London CLT to bid for a community land trust on the site and discussing what sort of homes and buildings people would like to see built. On 22nd March 2018, Lambeth campaigners joined with campaigners from Shadwell Citizens to gather at City Hall and hand in our bid.
Then came the difficult task of choosing our architect! A small group of people from the steering group shortlisted four architects whom we were confident could work with us to design the homes. We then held a Choose the Architect event in a church close to the site. Lambeth residents came and spoke to the architects, asked questions, and then voted for which firm to work with on these homes. The winner, by a clear margin, was RCKa.
We submitted an application for funding to the GLA in January 2021.
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