Campaigners have declared a victory in the battle to save the historic Kingston Guildhall from being sold off.

A community group managed to have the council office listed as a community asset.

It was previously suggested the building could have been redeveloped into new homes, a workspace or even a boutique hotel because the council could no longer afford to look after it.

Save Royal Kingston got the Guildhall listed as an Asset of Community Value – meaning the community will be informed if the building is listed for sale within five years.

Locals can then make a Community Right to Bid, which gives them six months to find out if they can raise money to purchase the building.

Helen Hinton, leader of the Kingston Independent Residents Group ( KIRG) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It means that the community has a chance to bid for the Guildhall if the council put it up for sale in the next five years, which means an historic asset can be kept for the community and residents.”

The KIRG said it will stand in the election in May 2022 on retaining the Guildhall as a council asset.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant the council feared it could no longer afford to look after the Guildhall complex,. The council believed they would not need to use it as much because more staff would be looking to work remotely in the longer term.

A spokesperson from Save Royal Kingston said: “As soon as it was announced that the council had introduced a policy to sell the Guildhall the interest was out there to save the building.

“Within two weeks Save Royal Kingston was formed, with more than a hundred members from across the borough.

“It is not just about the heritage of the building; it has been the mothership of Kingston upon Thames for nearly four generations. It is where decisions are made, where elections are counted, where births and deaths are registered and more recently the place for wedding ceremonies in the beautifully restored lower ground.”

They added: “We are very pleased with this ruling by the council, meaning that the site has an element of protection by Law. This decision has certainly boosted Save Royal Kingston and the group currently has an application submitted to stop the demolition of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre with a view to encourage the less expensive refurbishment option.

“The group has recently agreed to submit two new applications to protect community land in Chessington and North Kingston.”

A Kingston Council spokesperson said: “Kingston Council received an application for the Guildhall building to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in accordance with the Localism Act 2011.

“The provisions give local groups a right to nominate a building or other land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value.

“After applying the tests set out in the legislation the council agrees that the nomination meets the statutory criteria and the building will be added to the council’s list of assets of community value.”