Campaigners are fighting to save New Malden’s parish halls from being turned into cash-making homes for developers, and asking for them to be kept in community use.

The Diocese of Southwark is planning to sell the Cambridge Avenue site, and Danielle O’Shaughnessy, who runs arts events in the area, has started a petition calling for the church and Kingston Council to do what they can to keep the halls for the public.

She said: “I think we’re seeing a rapid urbanisation of New Malden, and what I would like to see is a balance between community facilities and homes for commuters.

“At the moment, most of our community spaces are bursting at the seams. “With the growing population, this is about future-proofing against the needs of the community, and saying ‘let’s plan a little bit for the future’.”

The halls were built in the early Twentieth Century after a long fundraising campaign, and were most recently used as Coombe Kindergarten, which closed in 2012.

Ms O’Shaughnessy said the main building, which contains a stage, hall, kitchen and other multi-purpose rooms, could have many community uses, like an arts centre, children’s play rooms, a cinema, a playgroup or an adult education centre.

She said: “We have amazing things going on in New Malden: anything from classical music to open mic nights and poetry events. And there’s a lot of charitable work organised here, too, on issues like homelessness, food poverty and the environment.

“The building was created for the community with community funds. Because of that, the current and future owners have a responsibility to the community.”

The petition, which has more than 400 signatures and will be discussed at a council meeting if it reaches 500, asks for the council to protect the halls under planning policy aimed to “resist the net loss of community facilities”, and the church to be mindful of to whom it sells the site.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Southwark did not say whether prospective buyers were being considered with a mind to keep the halls for the community.

She said:  “The new church hall which has been built at Christ Church, New Malden has provision for community use in the same way as the as the hall on the site which is being sold.”

Kingston Council has been approached for comment.

To view the petition, click here.