Work on revamping a derelict park warden’s house that was controversially sold off by Croydon Council has started.

Heath Lodge in Grangewood Park was bought at auction for £600,000 in March, after being listed with a guide price of £310,000.

There was strong local opposition to selling off the historic house with more than 5,000 signing a petition against the decision.

The sale was one of a series made by the authority in the wake of having to declare effective bankruptcy in 2020.

Before the sale, the Friends of Grangewood Park group said: “This community asset would serve its residents so they feel part of their environment, offer a sense of belonging, support mental well-being and an active lifestyle with the ability to serve local families whilst supporting the maintenance of the park.”

Croydon Council claimed it would cost too much to make the house usable and that it had become a magnet for antisocial behaviour and fly-tipping.

It is not known who bought the house at auction but work has started on renovating it.

New fences have been put up around the house and the roof has already been replaced.

It is understood the sale included restrictions to limit development on the site, meaning it must remain a single house.

The three-bedroom property sits by the entrance of the park on the border of South Norwood and Thornton Heath.

The recent sale of the property was not the first time it was at risk of being lost. In January 2020, the council backed down from plans to sell off the lodge after strong opposition from locals.

Another park keeper’s lodge in Ashburton Park was also due to be sold off by the council this year, but Oasis Academy Shirley Park successfully halted the auction.

It will be turned into a youth centre named after pupil Zaian Aimable-Lina, 15, who died after he was stabbed in the park in December 2021.