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."