A Penge community group has succeeded in getting public toilets classed as an Asset of Community Value.

The Penge Forum made the application to Bromley Council over the public toilets in Arpley Square on the High Street.

Submitted last month, the council formally included it on the list on December 9.

This means the council must inform the public if they want to sell it, and community groups are given six weeks to decide if they want to bid on it.

They have six months to come up with a proposal if they wish to make an offer, although owners of any 'asset' do not have to sell to them.

During this period the 'asset' cannot be put on the market. 

John Getgood, chair of the Penge Forum, said: "We were concerned because these public toilets have been a community asset and we wanted to make sure if there was going to be change of use, if they were going to be sold off, then we have a chance to buy them.

"These are a community asset, and we want to at least have an opportunity to keep them for the community in one form or another."

The loos are listed on the council's website as public toilets under their control.

Mr Getgood, a resident of Penge, said: "At least this gives us a fighting chance of keeping them in public use, benefitting the community rather than a block of flats.

"It won't necessarily be us who bids, but we can compete on a level playing field now.

"Groups who want to use it for the community have a chance instead of a developer with a cheque in his back pocket."

It is thought other toilets in nearby shops and businesses would be available for use by the public under the Community Toilet Scheme.

Mr Getgood added: "My understanding is that they will be closing in January. We think toilets in Sainsbury's and McDonalds will be made available.

"My issue is making sure we don't lose all our community assets in Penge."

He said the group was "delighted" their proposal was accepted, recognising their value to the people of Penge.

Mooting what the lavatories could be turned in to, he said a pop up shop space or a local market were among ideas.

Mr Getgood added: "I think public toilets are an important vitality of high streets, but we have to recognise the council doesn't have the resources to manage them."

Councillor Colin Smith, executive councillor for environment said, “Yes, I can confirm that these toilets are set to close as part of the Council’s cost saving measures required to balance the books as a result of ongoing reductions to our budget by Central Government.

"Instead, we intend to expand our successful Community Toilets Scheme into Penge, a scheme which has worked well in other locations across the Borough following its introduction in 2009.

"With more locations open for longer hours in the future, we are cautiously optimistic that local shoppers might even notice a change for the better as the scheme beds in.

"The asset of community value status will allow a community group to bid for the toilets when or should the property be marketed for sale.”

To find out how to apply for something to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, visit www.bromley.gov.uk/info/200059/land_and_premises/919/assets_of_community_value