A campaign to an abandoned architectural gem in a leafy corner of Eltham has taken a big step to save the building.

The 19 century Avery Hill Winter Gardens has been registered as an Asset of Community Value after a petition garnered thousands of signatures saying it was worth saving.

Terry Powley, from the campaign group, said it showed how much local residents care about the winter garden.

He said: “It is clearly a local community asset, and the community should play a major part in deciding its future.

“It’s very encouraging that the council has given the site this protected status, but with the University set to move out in six months, the clock is ticking, and we need urgent action to secure its future.”

The winter gardens in Avery Hill Park are capable of containing tropical trees and plants year round, but it has been derelict for years with broken windows and water running down the walls.

While it is technically open to the public, campaigners have said nobody would realistically want to visit them in their current state.

The building is currently owned by the University of Greenwich, alongside an old art gallery next door that is used as a library, and the university agreed to sell the site in 2014.

Councillor Nigel Fletcher, who represents Eltham South ward on Greenwich Council, has been supporting the cross-party campaign.

He said: “Local residents have demonstrated very clearly how much they value the Winter Garden as a community asset, so it’s only right it now has that formal status.

“Thousands signed the petition in favour of restoration, and we’ve had huge support at public meetings on the issue.

“Getting this important part of our heritage properly restored is a personal priority for me, and I will continue pressing the Council and the University to work constructively with the campaign group to achieve that. It has huge potential, but we need commitment from all parties to make it happen.”