Families celebrate first anniversary in ‘self-built’ community


A group of families with a unique solution to London’s housing crisis this month celebrated a first anniversary in their own self-built community.

Nine residents from east London had been previously living in overcrowded accommodation, and faced a ten year wait for a family home on the housing waiting list. Instead, they decided to join forces and help Circle Housing convert a derelict garage site in Walthamstow into 10 high quality homes.

The structural work was initially completed by local builders Kind & Company, before the residents spent a year carrying out work in their spare time on the internal aspects of the homes - this has involved everything from fitting the kitchens through to tiling .

The residents, most of whom prior to the project had no building experience, spent four months attending night classes at Waltham Forest College where they were taught a range of practical building skills, including painting and decorating and joinery.

John Struthers approached Circle Housing in 2009 with a ‘build to rent’ plan after recruiting the local families to the project. He said: “I can honestly say the families that took part in this project have no regrets. It's amazing to see the growth in confidence in the group members over this time period.

“It brings tears to my eyes when I see how each and every one of them takes pride in their homes and what they have achieved for their families. This journey has not only enabled me to help build a house, but also a home for my children set within a beautiful community.”

Luke Chandler, Principal Development Manager for Circle Housing said: “We are passionate about helping people to be more independent and this project demonstrated how determined residents can really build their own future and create a sustainable and thriving community.

“Despite a lack of experience, the group have embraced the challenge that was set, developing new-found skills and confidence. We believe that this will be of great benefit to their community and most of all, themselves. “

The scheme has been funded by Circle Housing, with an additional contribution from the Greater London Authority. The families are renting the homes at Headway Gardens, Walthamstow, from Circle Housing, which owns the site, at an affordable rate.