Residents campaigning to halt controversial plans for Merton Hall want to see the council give them their chance to buy it.

Merton council granted permission in September for the partial demolition of the building, which will be refurbished so Elim Pentecostal Church can move in.

The church's old warehouse in High Path would then be transformed into a new mixed ability school, Harris Academy Wimbledon.

But on Monday, the council listed Merton Hall on its register of Assets of Community Value (ACV) and campaigners believe that should give them an opportunity to come up with a bid to buy it.

Under legislation from 2011, voluntary and community organisations can nominate an asset to be included on their local authority's register of ACVs. One of the features of ACV is that community has the right to bid to own them if the owner wishes to sell.

John Chambers who has lived next door to Merton Hall for 22 years and Sara Sharp are now campaigning to save the building.

John said: “I am very keen to save this community hall.

“It has been gifted to the community for 127 years and no council has dared to try and sell it and demolish and give away the freehold of the building.”

He added: “We want the council to put on hold the demolition of the hall and give people the legal right to buy the building and give us six months to buy it.

"I am disgusted about how the council are ignoring our petition and ignoring residents in the community.”

Sara Sharp said: “There are far more people against demolishing Merton Hall than there are those supporting the school.

“Merton is pushing ahead with a school site without any thought to the pollution or air quality on that polluted site of High Path.”

Last week a campaign to save Merton Hall took a step backwards as Historic England decided not to list the building.

Ms Sharp who set up the petition had heard that Historic England has decided not to give the hall listed building status and she withdrew her her plans to push for a judicial review.

Speaking on the decision, Sara said: “Historic England’s decision not to list Merton Hall is very disappointing.

“This prompted advice by my legal team to withdraw the judicial review against Merton Council as the grounds for it were closely linked to the listing.”

She added: “This is not the end, far from it. A number of compelling issues have come to light and we the campaigners for saving Merton Hall are exploring further action.

“I’ve received dozens of encouraging emails and messages from residents from all over the borough and beyond telling me not to give up the fight.

“I won’t this has become a much bigger issue than heritage. “

Cllr Caroline Cooper Marbiah, the Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Merton Hall is the last piece in the jigsaw to build a new school in South Wimbledon and create the school places we urgently need. Merton has the best secondary state schools in the country, and local parents who are desperate for a place at one of our amazing schools will be delighted."