Most surprising about Lewisham's seven-house Segal Close development is the spirit of community that survives 40 years after these homes were built.
Walter Segal's self-build system calls for a sizeable crew to erect the post-and-beam wooden framing - something only achieved by collective action. Today, only one house is still occupied by the family who built it, the others having been sold over the years. But the human scale & the way the houses nestle together have engendered friendliness.
Our town is currently up in arms about the prospect of massive carbuncular development that will generate WEALTH (i.e. line the pockets of the already rich) but add nothing to the PROSPERITY of our pretty market town. In fact, the extra traffic and parking requirement will probably ruin it. The landowner tries to characterise this 2000+ home development as a gift to the locality, but it's just a huge cash legacy for his own progeny. Without doubt the money will be invested off-shore so the UK will see precious little tax benefit. Residents feel dismayed and powerless in the face of implacable, self-serving greed.
Walter Segal created a building system that empowered ordinary people on the Lewisham council housing list to build comfortable, affordable homes. It took five years to obtain the necessary planning authorities to build on a sloping piece of derelict land. But the council supported the original builders through imaginative joint funding and charged only a peppercorn rent. Ordinary citizens prospered. The Cotswold District Council, by contrast, appears to be interested only in helping the rich line their own pockets.
Thanks to Open House London for the chance to visit two houses in Segal Close, SE23 1PP