Ready-made homes could be bought by the council and temporarily set up on the site of a former leisure centre in a bid to beat the housing crisis.

Lewisham Council is considering the move - thought to be the first of its kind - at a meeting next week.

The innovative pilot scheme would see 24 housing units blocked together, with four retail, commercial or civic spaces beneath, on the old Ladywell Leisure Centre site.

Those quick to put together production-line units would be used as temporary accommodation for homeless people, reducing the council's reliance on bed and breakfast businesses.

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said, aside from providing much-needed housing, the idea had the benefit of bringing the Ladywell site back into use while council officers draw up a masterplan for its long-term use and pass through the planning process - an estimated period of between two and four years.

He said: "This is a relatively small development, but what's exciting is, if we can make it work, it may open up possibilities both here and elsewhere.

"In London and Lewisham at any given moment there'll be sites at different stages of redesigns for development. Normally that means they sit there for two or three years with nothing happening."

Sir Steve said the low-cost units would cost "several million", but would represent a saving on the normal options, while modern construction methods meant they would still provide a good standard of living. 

He said: "If we can use some of those sites for temporary accommodation, that actually would be economically better than us having to rent private sector units to put those people into. This is about finding out whether this is actually a feasible idea."

Ideas for the units below the housing include a meeting space, an "enterprise hub" or a "21st century library" with a 3D printer.

Once the units have been used in Ladywell, they could then be re-deployed elsewhere in the borough, across a number of different sites if necessary, or even given a different use.

Sir Steve said: "We think this is the first time anybody has tried this in quite this way.

"If this works we think that's actually a pretty important piece of learning, both for Lewisham and perhaps more widely."

Since the leisure centre was demolished in May, a number of rumours have swirled about its future use, but no agreed plan has been put in place.

Sir Steve said: "I think that certainly there'll need to be permanent housing on that site, some educational use and, if we can make it work, we'll probably want some employment on there too." 

A mayor and cabinet meeting will decide whether to start a procurement process for the "re-deployable housing" scheme on October 22.