Church Grove will provide 36 new sustainable, customised, high quality homes that are permanently affordable and partly self-built in order to reduce construction costs. It will also provide opportunities for training in construction for self-builders as well as apprentices and volunteers from the wider community. The project will contain a range of maisonettes and flats of different tenures, sizes and levels of self-build in order to create a truly mixed community made up of people from diverse backgrounds in the local area.
RUSS (https://www.theruss.org/) successfully completed a public procurement process and signed a Development Agreement with Lewisham Council for a ‘community-led, affordable, self-build housing development’ on a former derelict school and industrial site at Church Grove. The Church Grove project, designed as a PassivHaus scheme, was granted planning permission by Lewisham Council in 2018.
The proposals included a structural timber frame and timber cladding however, as fire risk has become an important concern of RUSS residents, the use of this potentially combustible material was no longer considered acceptable or viable
In parallel, the scheme as illustrated in the original planning consent was demonstrated through market testing during 2019 to be financially unviable. The scheme required revision to allow the new housing to be successfully delivered.
SEH were brought to the project as a pragmatic architect, able to work within their client’s budget and get to the heart of the client’s design brief and requirements. We developed a revised scheme via consultation with the residents, the Local Planning Authority and the client that met the residents desire for supporting and enhancing the community aspects of the development; was brought back within the client’s budget; and stayed true to the high quality design intent of the original proposals to meet RUSS's and the Local Planning Authority's aspirations. As part of the revised scheme, we were able to increase the number of units from 33 to 36. The tenure mix includes social rent, London Living Rent, shared ownership and share equity. To address the fire risk concerns, the timber structure and timber cladding were replaced with alternative materials. The revised proposals were approved by Lewisham Council in February 2021. The project started on site in 2022 and will be complete in 2023.
The design proposals adopt a fabric first methodology to reduce carbon emissions. Envelope and structural materials include fibre cement cladding, which achieves an A+ summary rating in the BRE Green guide, the same rating as cedar cladding; and concrete using GGBS (Ground Granulated Blast Furnace slag), a waste product, as the binder instead of Portland cement. GBBS requires less than a fifth the energy to manufacture and produces less than a fifteenth of the carbon dioxide missions of Portland cement. PV panels and air source heat pumps provide domestic hot water, and efficient mechanical ventilation with heat recovery minimise energy consumption.