Lessons learned, from London to Lagos

To deliver the homes London needs we must address competing and urgent priorities. In this session, we heard from practitioners working in uniquely challenging circumstances, including the Grenfell Tower site in London, UK and in Lagos, Nigera.


  • James Caspell, Neighbourhood Director (Lancaster West & Grenfell Housing Service), RB Kensington & Chelsea
  • Chrissy Galerakis, Programme Delivery Lead (Community Development & Social Value), RB Kensington & Chelsea
  • Nicola Mathers, Chief Executive, Future of London (chair)
  • Olu Olanrewaju, Director, Altair International
  • Gilly Tobin, Director – Property, Altair

From London…

Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team: A systems-based approach to housing management

The Grenfell fire on 14 June 2017 claimed 72 lives. It was a tragedy that highlighted a legacy of systematic inequality and neglect.

In response to this, RB Kensington & Chelsea established the Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team in April 2018. It was established in partnership with residents as a semi-autonomous team to work specifically with survivors living on and around the Lancaster West Estate.

LWNT is a model that goes far beyond housing. It is a systems-based approach to housing management. But what makes it so different?

  • LWNT is a model that puts residents at the heart of decision making. The model supports and empowers an active Residents Association and has a successful 50% target for resident participation in all engagement activities.
  • It uses housing as an entry point into residents’ lives to strive for change in employment, heath, wellbeing and community cohesion
  • It strives to provide a space for residents and support them to advocate for themselves
  • The model brings together public, private and voluntary sector organisations to jointly address service gaps
  • LWNT aims to represent the community – currently 18 local residents are employed by the neighbourhood team

What has been achieved?

The model has resulted in improved housing services and more. With residents, the team co-designed a local lettings plan that understood housing need as experienced. This resulted in reducing overcrowding form 20% to 9% and moving households into long-term temporary accommodation into secure lifetime tenancies (abolishing fixed term tenancies in the process!).

Refurbishment and repairs have also been co-designed so residents’ priorities are well understood. From windows to communal areas to insulation, repairs satisfaction have gone from 66% to 90% in the past year.

Beyond housing, they have invested over £2.5 million of finance value in the local community through jobs, grants and donations. And in pursuit of their eco-neighbourhood objectives, over 1km squared of bio-diverse green spaces have been created in partnership with residents, with 1375 m squared of grey space turned green.

“Residents have increasingly become active drivers of change.”

James Caspell, RB Kensington & Chelsea

Looking to the future of Lancaster West

With funding from the LGA’s One Public Estate Programme, LWNT has co-designed a vision for the future of building, projects and service on and around the estate. As part of this they established an inter-organisations Partnership Board with over 20 cross-sector members to jointly identify, deliver and support community projects.

The model has also received GLA Future Neighbourhood 2030 funding to transform the ward into London’s largest eco-neighbourhood with projects including:

  • Establish a Green Skills Academy
  • Furthering the retrofit and refurbishment programme across more blocks
  • Investment in solar and other renewable energy for public buildings
  • Establishing more community Kitchen Gardens and volunteering programmes

To Lagos…

Family Homes Fund, Nigeria

Africa is urbanising faster than any other region. It will house 7 out of 20 of the world’s largest cities in the next 50 years. In Lagos, Nigeria, the population is expected to grow from 14 million in 2022 to 24.4 million by 2035.

Currently, 66% of the city live in informal settlements and housing supply remains sub-scale and inadequate. And most importantly, formal housing remains out of reach for most of the population.

To address these issues, Altair has helped the Nigerian government set up a new housing fund: the Family Homes Funds. The fund is an innovative approach to provide financial and policy tools to provide demand and supply interventions compared to traditional approaches.

What does it offer?

It offers financial support across four main areas in facilitating access to homes to build, rent or buy:

  • Affordable housing fund aims to support the development of up to 500,000 Homes targeted at people on low income. This is delivered in partnership with public and private sector developers by providing competitively priced direct financing – both debt or equity to finance projects that meet strategic objectives.
  • Help-to-own fund contributes 40% of the total cost of new homes for low-middle income individuals as a loan which requires no repayment in the first 5 years after which monthly payments are made starting from an interest rate of 3% rising gradually to a maximum of 15% in the 20th year.
  • Rental housing fund helps individuals on low income move into a new home with just a month’s rent and a month’s deposit and with an option to buy the house at a later date after instalment payment conditions have been met.
  • Land development fund is a short-term construction finance facility for real estate developers with a 10% interest rate aimed at funding the development of a minimum of 250 affordable housing units for low- income families.

In addition to delivering new homes, the fund also aims to create 1,500,000 jobs. Supported through a combination of funding streams from shareholder equity to loans, the partnership between the African Development Bank, national banks, the Nigerian government and more, is working to deliver homes in a challenging context.

The UK has a shortage of high quality, secure and affordable homes. Within the context of an increasingly economic environment, the big challenge in the UK context is between two key considerations – property and people, which leads to very difficult decision making!

As discussed at a Future of London conference session focused on collaborative finance models, there is a growing need for innovative housing models in the UK. Gilly and Olu concluded that, as a sector, we can look to our colleagues abroad for inspiration on delivering desperately needed homes even in the most challenging of contexts. But we must pay close attention to the local context and circumstances – to make sure we are delivering against the particular priorities of both a place, and its people.

 This session was supported by

Affordable Housing: Overcoming crisis through collaboration is a cross-sector research and events programme that aims to make practical recommendations.

Contact Anna Odedun, Head of Knowledge, to get involved. Thanks to project sponsors Countryside, Montagu Evans, Pollard Thomas Edwards, Potter Raper and Trowers and Hamlins, and our conference sponsors Altair, Inner Circle Consulting and Big Society Capital.