More than 26 squatters have broken into the former Virgin Active site on Battle close, South Wimbledon.

The squatters, thought to be aged between 18-27 years old, entered through a gap in the bars and allegedly made their way to the sauna and steam facilities of the site. 

Councillor Charlie Chirico said: "I was speaking to residents last night with my Trinity ward colleagues.

"Concerns were raised about a rave with plus 100 attendees, which is said to have occured over the weekend, following that we were informed that squatters had moved in around this time.

"It has caused much anxiety amongst residents who raised concerns about public safety and security particularly those who have young children and elderly parents nearby.

"We have been in close contact with our local police and understand that a closure notice has been served, although we are yet to see any movement from the people inside.

"We took the opportunity to speak directly with the squatters who informed us they were a group of 26 between the ages of 18-27 years old. 

"One man told us he was from North London and moved in after the snow last week."

A Court Order is scheduled to be obtained through the Magistrates court within the next 24 hours and the police have been on site with a 24 hour CCTV van parked outside the building.

In a statement Merton council said: "We are urgently working with the police to evict squatters who have broken into the former Virgin Active on Battle Close in South Wimbledon and have been causing a disturbance in the area.

"A Court Order is scheduled to be obtained through the Magistrates Court within the next 24 hours and the police have already been on site.

"Security measures had been in place including 24 hour CCTV but hose involved were still able to force themselves in.

"Once the squatters have gone, the council will tighten up security to prevent further break ins, while the future of the site is still being considered.

"The former gym has been shut and secured since December when Virgin Active decided to close the gym and give up their lease.

"The keys were then handed back to the council who own the freehold."

In October 2017 the North Road Family Group launched a petition to stop the closure and called for the venue to remain a health club. The family and health club had around 4,000 members.

The council say the site was rejected by the Department for Education as a potential location for the new Harris Wimbledon because it was deemed too small for a school. However, other uses are being explored including housing.