A consortium of South Norwood residents organisations have put in a bid to wrest control of the historic Stanley Halls from the council.

The residents claim the council is not following the vision of industrialist William Stanley, who built the halls in 1903, and want to follow his original ideas to use the building as a public space for plays, concerts and lectures.

The People for Portland Road and The South Norwood Business Partnership enquired about managing the Halls earlier this year.

The Elm Park Estate Residents Association (TEPRA) has since joined forces with them.

A spokeswoman from the groups said: “The Halls could be far better used to provide community facilities, arts and drama and business and education support. The council owns and manages the grand Grade II Victorian Halls but lettings are sparse considering the space available.”

They are calling for a public meeting at 7.30pm on Thursday July 14 at Stanley Halls and have invited the council to attend.

“The public meeting will focus on what the community wants from the Halls and Council officers will be invited. There they’ll hear the passion that local people have for making their Halls work for them and seeing the building do justice to its lineage.”

Residents hope to discuss with the council how it could relinquish management or arrange the asset transfer of the Halls in line with the Government’s localism agenda.

Local resident Don Madgwick said: "I’ve helped organize the recent South Norwood Arts Festival and met loads of local artists who are crying out for a place to work and exhibit. Where better than Stanley Halls? It’s so big there is plenty of space for other functions, such as a local business centre.

"The will is there, we just need the Council to recognize and support us to use the Halls as a public space as William Stanley originally intended them."