Mayor launches £8m fund for Londoners to build grand designs

18 July 2012

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has invited Londoners to apply for a share of an £8m fund aimed at putting design and architectural excellence at the heart of community building projects.

Under ‘Build Your Own Home – the London Way’ Londoners can now apply for loans or grants from the Government’s ‘Custom Build’ or ‘Community Right to Build’ schemes, which will enable them to develop new and innovatively designed homes or community facilities. The Mayor is particularly keen to hear from Londoners who can demonstrate how delivering their proposals might help to bring jobs, training or other employment opportunities, such as apprenticeships for young people.

The Mayor, who has already introduced a design guide for new homes as part of his London Plan, has enlisted the help of leading London architects and designers who have offered to help successful applicants refine their ideas into projects which will improve the capital’s neighbourhoods and make them better places to live, work and invest in.

Ben Derbyshire, managing director of awarding winning architects HTA; Peter Murray, architect and chairman of New London Architecture; David Birkbeck, chief executive Design for Homes and Tamsie Thomson, director at the Royal Institute of British Architects, are all lending their expertise to the initiative, helping successful bidders to bring their ideas to fruition through specialist design review sessions.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “From grand Georgian squares to the Brutalist developments of modernity, London’s unique architecture has played a key role in making this city a fantastic place to live, work and invest in. As we seek to establish a new vernacular for our capital in the 21st century, this project will put Londoners themselves right at the heart of the creative process. Whether it’s new self-build homes or a much needed community facility, we want to see really innovative ideas coming forward. With the help of the top industry experts we have on board, there’s never been a better opportunity to help shape the neighbourhood in which you live.”

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: "We are witnessing a self-build surge in this country, with more people than ever looking to construct their own home or get behind the building of new community facilities. The custom build scheme and Community Right to Build are great opportunities for people across London to be in the driving seat in delivering the homes, shops and facilities their neighbourhood needs.

"The funding and advice being offered will provide a big boost to people eager to bring about change and I would urge all Londoners to make use of the funds and support to ensure their community has the best chance to thrive in the future."

Ben Derbyshire, managing director of HTA Architects, said: “It is a very good thing that the Mayor of London has recognised this creative potential which was in danger of withering for want of support. We have certainly fallen far behind what is being achieved by self builders in the US and Northern Europe. This initiative will help to increase the supply of housing in London by leveraging sweat equity into the equation, at the same time reconnecting citizens with place-making. We are delighted to be involved and happy to support self-builders in London.”

Architect and Chairman of New London Architecture, Peter Murray, said: “The London terraced house is a fundamental part of the capital's physical DNA. It has a standardised format but allows individual occupiers to change it to suit their own requirements, it is adaptable to different periods and different styles of living. Today, we should be designing new homes that have the same flexibility, that create streets and spaces, and are suited to modern living. The Mayor's funding for ideas for custom built homes is a great initiative to bring forward much needed new ideas for the design of housing in the capital.”

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing and Vice Chair of the Homes for London Board, said: "London’s boroughs have over 40 years’ experience of promoting self-build in the capital – for example, the Walters Way scheme in Lewisham, dating from 1979, and more recently Angell Eco Self Build (AESB) in Brixton – both of which provided opportunities for families to build their own homes. In light of London’s housing crisis, any initiative which allows families to create new homes they might not ordinarily be able to afford is to be encouraged."

Notes to editors

1. The project aims to encourage self-build, community engagement in development and high quality design in London. In total there is £8m of funding - £5m of development finance, available on a commercial repayable basis, for Custom Build Homes and £3m of revenue grants for organisations interested in applying for Community Right to Build Orders.

Custom Build Homes are defined as homes built or commissioned by individuals or groups of individuals for their own use, either by building the home on their own or working with builders.

For Custom Build the loan finance can cover up to 75% of the development cost and for Community Right to Build the grant can cover up to 90% of the cost of applying for a Community Right to Build Order, including drawing up plans and feasibility studies.

2. The GLA is particularly keen to see community groups take advantage of this funding as this helps to fulfil a key pledge in the Mayor’s London Housing Strategy.

(i) For Custom Build we will prioritise applications which can demonstrate that they are genuinely community led as these are considered to face the greatest disadvantage in accessing development finance.(ii) Community Right to Build funding is solely available to Community Organisations constituted in such a way to enable them to obtain a Community Right to Build Order.

3. As well as providing incentives for development through the custom and community build routes, the aspiration is that these programmes will bring forward significant numbers of jobs and apprenticeships directly and indirectly. Proposals which have a greater economic impact in terms of jobs and growth will be prioritised.

4. The funding prospectus for these initiatives can be downloaded on the GLA website at Organisations interested in bidding for funding are encouraged to read this document.

5. Questions on Custom Build Housing can be sent to [email protected] while questions on Community Right to Build should be sent to [email protected]