New Cross activists build 'house in one day' on council land over 'scandalous' lack of social housing

News Shopper: The house at Besson Street L-R Lewisham People Before Profit's George Hallam, John Hamilton, Ray Woolford and Jim Smith. The house at Besson Street L-R Lewisham People Before Profit's George Hallam, John Hamilton, Ray Woolford and Jim Smith.

POLITICAL activists built a 'house in one day' on council-owned land in New Cross to protest against a "scandalous" lack of social housing.

Around 20 people helped construct the plywood house on February 16 to make a "political point" about building affordable housing quickly at the site in Besson Street which has lain empty for around six years.

News Shopper: Ray Woolford

The group, organised by Lewisham’s People Before Profit party, were kicked off by police for trespassing at around 4.30pm but say they may return to make it habitable for two couples.

Lewisham Council says tackling the borough's housing challenge is a "top priority" and is launching a scheme this week to build six new council homes in Lee - the first of 250 over the next four years.

Speaking of the site at Besson Street, Ray Woolford, of People Before Profit, said: "This is a scandal. All this land is council owned - why are they not building now?

"This land has been empty for years. Steve Bullock promised 250 council homes, he could build 800 council houses with this site alone.

"That would go a long way to solve the social housing problem.

"If you can do it with one house in a day, what can you do if you get local businesses together?"

The party claims overseas landlords with luxury developments take money away from Lewisham and cause problems such as high rents, overcrowding and homelessness.

News Shopper: The house at Besson Street L-R Lewisham People Before Profit's George Hallam, John Hamilton, Ray Woolford and Jim Smith.

The single-room building in New Cross cost around £200 and has a lobby, compost toilet and stove with plans to build two bedrooms on the back. The group say they would have finished the roof by the end of the day if they had not been evicted.

John Hamilton, who will stand as People Before Profit's candidate for Mayor of Lewisham, said the idea came from Medieval law where he claimed people had squatting rights if they could build a house in a day.

A Lewisham Council spokeswoman said: "We are tackling the housing challenge in the borough as a top priority.

"We are also working with developers to build high quality new housing, such as the Renaissance development in central Lewisham and the number of new affordable homes being built in Lewisham is among the highest in any area in the country."

Comments (8)

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6:48pm Mon 17 Feb 14

white rabbit9 says...

Get rid of government, people have happier lives.
Get rid of government, people have happier lives. white rabbit9
  • Score: 15

8:27pm Mon 17 Feb 14

ron.1952 says...

I must say I love your bag Jim. It's so you.

Ronny x
I must say I love your bag Jim. It's so you. Ronny x ron.1952
  • Score: -35

6:29am Tue 18 Feb 14

molsey says...

The group should have bedded down in there immediately, roof or no roof, and claimed they were squatters. That way they could not have been removed by police for trespassing and the council would have had to go through the usual lengthy court process, thus gaining maximum ongoing publicity for their cause.
The group should have bedded down in there immediately, roof or no roof, and claimed they were squatters. That way they could not have been removed by police for trespassing and the council would have had to go through the usual lengthy court process, thus gaining maximum ongoing publicity for their cause. molsey
  • Score: 13

11:13am Tue 18 Feb 14

Gypo.Joe says...

Billy Idol looks his age now don't he.

THANk YOu
Billy Idol looks his age now don't he. THANk YOu Gypo.Joe
  • Score: -27

11:46am Tue 18 Feb 14

concerned.erith says...

They could use the shipping containers like they have in Woolwich. They're already water tight and need little adaping. They stack easily ontop of each other too.
They could use the shipping containers like they have in Woolwich. They're already water tight and need little adaping. They stack easily ontop of each other too. concerned.erith
  • Score: 12

12:49pm Tue 18 Feb 14

molsey says...

concerned.erith wrote:
They could use the shipping containers like they have in Woolwich. They're already water tight and need little adaping. They stack easily ontop of each other too.
That would be too easy.
[quote][p][bold]concerned.erith[/bold] wrote: They could use the shipping containers like they have in Woolwich. They're already water tight and need little adaping. They stack easily ontop of each other too.[/p][/quote]That would be too easy. molsey
  • Score: 11

12:50pm Tue 18 Feb 14

molsey says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
Billy Idol looks his age now don't he.

THANk YOu
Looks the proudest though and trendy too.
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: Billy Idol looks his age now don't he. THANk YOu[/p][/quote]Looks the proudest though and trendy too. molsey
  • Score: 1

2:27pm Tue 18 Feb 14

danney 123 says...

Lewisham council and its all powerful mayor should be ashamed of themselves . A group of good willed local people getting together to build a home for the homeless .
on land the mayor has allowed to stand empty for six years.

instead of calling the police to threaten and stop them and therefore wasting more of our public money in doing so .
The mayor should of offered to pay for the materials and brought the volunteers lunch.
Lewisham council and its all powerful mayor should be ashamed of themselves . A group of good willed local people getting together to build a home for the homeless . on land the mayor has allowed to stand empty for six years. instead of calling the police to threaten and stop them and therefore wasting more of our public money in doing so . The mayor should of offered to pay for the materials and brought the volunteers lunch. danney 123
  • Score: 4

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