Ladywell residents have said an abandoned building due to be converted will be “at risk” if development is delayed much longer.

Lewisham Council has admitted the development of Ladywell Playtower is taking "longer than anticipated" with no date in place for construction to start.

The grade II listed building, which was built as a public swimming baths in 1884, was bought by developer Guildmore and Curzon nearly two years ago after it initially closed in 2004.

Developers acquired the derelict building in November 2017 with the promise of building a three-screen cinema, a café/bar and flats – but the site is still dormant today.

Tony Rich, who has lived in Lewisham for more than 30 years, is concerned about the future of the historic building if work does not start soon.

“The Victorian Society listed it as one of the most at risk buildings in England and Wales and there have been squatters in there,” he told News Shopper.

The chairman of the Lewisham Building Preservation Trust added he thinks there will be a second arson attack on the building after it went up in flames 2006.

“They gave them the go-ahead in November 2017 and it’s been dragging on since then.”

The Trust has started a petition to bring the Playtower back into use as soon as possible, which has racked up more than 900 signatures.

The petition reads: “Summer 2019 was meant to be the time when the building reopened to the public.

“Instead, it continues to deteriorate and suffer break-ins, when it could be a valuable asset for the local community.”

Speaking to News Shopper, Mr Rich said he and the Trust were happy with the plans to convert the Playtower into a cinema and flats but could not understand why the project is taking so long to get off the ground.

“We don’t really see why it’s taken two years.

“It’s going to deteriorate if we get another bad winter. It’s only going to get worse – it’s just going to rot away.”

He also suggested the mayor of Lewisham’s affordable housing target for the borough may be one of the factors delaying the proposal for the site.

Lewisham Council could not

A Lewisham Council spokeswoman said: “Ladywell Playtower is an important historic local building and our long-term plan remains to refurbish it and bring it back into use for the community.

“This is taking longer than anticipated and we share residents’ desire to see the development progress.

“We are working and with Guildmore and Curzon – who remain committed to the scheme – to develop viable options for the future of Ladywell Playtower and the surrounding site.”