Nine families who were fed up with living in overcrowded homes have built their own small community after helping turn derelict garages into their dream houses.

The industrious residents helped design, build and fit the homes after 50 garages in Headway Gardens, off Penrhyn Grove in Walthamstow, were knocked down by Circle Housing.

The families spent four months at Waltham Forest College learning skills including kitchen fitting and carpentry.

They helped to create ten two-storey homes at the site.

John Struthers, 47, originally approached Circle in 2009 after recruiting eight other families in housing need.

He came up with the ‘build to rent’ plan which has now become reality.

He said: “We have all ate, slept and dreamt this project for a long while now, so this is the end of a very long and challenging journey.

“We knew from the outset that self-build is not a quick fix, but thanks to a lot of hard work, this scheme will not only transform our family lives but will also benefit the community as a whole.”

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Former garage site off Penrhyn Close in Walthamstow

Executive director for new business at Circle Housing, Mike Ward, said it was an offer they could not refuse.

He said: “We decided to work with the group as we recognised their commitment to helping themselves. This has helped them to move to a new home more quickly as there is a shortage of family homes in London and they would otherwise have been waiting on the transfer list.

“We are passionate about helping people to be more independent and this project is a great example of how residents are really helping to build their own future and create a sustainable and thriving community.

“Our residents understood from the start what was required and have relished every moment of the challenge - they have also shown tremendous dedication by sacrificing much of their free time.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Families decided to get out of overcrowded houses by helping to build dream homes with housing association

Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, cabinet member for housing, said: “We’ve been impressed by the innovative schemes various Housing Associations have delivered to use these spaces to create new homes for people, but this has to be one of the most innovative.

“Involving the residents in this way is commendable and a great deal of credit obviously has to go to the families themselves who have really rolled up their sleeves and got involved.

“Just brilliant.”

The scheme has been funded by Circle Housing, with an additional contribution from the Greater London Authority.

The families will rent the homes from Circle Housing Circle 33, which owns the site, at an ‘affordable rate’.

Circle Housing is now seeking to extend the concept and is actively looking for opportunities to offer serviced plots for self-build on larger sites.


East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The finished homes (picture by Kind & Company Limited)