Merton Council has u-turned on its decision to include Wimbledon Library in a list of sites open for future development.

Outraged residents formed a campaign group called ‘save Wimbledon Library’ after the listed building was placed on the council’s ‘sites and policies plan' - a list of sites earmarked for future development along with their agreed use to guide future development.

Although the council stated that the library would be "retained and improved", there was no promise as to what space it would be allocated prompting residents to fear that it could be eroded or even lost in the future.

Yesterday Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the leader of Merton Council, said he would be removing Wimbledon library from the document to allay fears and reassure residents that the library would not opened out to developers.

He said: "I will not stand by and allow Merton’s residents to be hoodwinked about the future of our wonderful libraries.

"Unlike other councils around the country, Merton Council has not only kept all of our libraries open during these difficult financial times, we have gone further and increased overall opening times.

"As we have repeatedly said, there are no plans to move Wimbledon library or to change its use, in fact we are improving the children’s section and refurbishing much of the library in the autumn.

"However, to avoid any on-going confusion or false rumours I am removing any reference to Wimbledon Library from the recent council document that has been so misrepresented.

"And, let me be crystal clear - no ifs, no buts - as long as I am leader of this council, Wimbledon Library remains safe both today and in the future."

The news has been welcomed by campaigners who had protested outside Wimbledon Library last week while an online petition on Merton Council’s website to protect the library attracted 1362 signature in just over two weeks.

Shas Sheehan, Wimbledon's Liberal Democrat parliamentary campaigner said: "A strong campaign led by a Wimbledon resident, Andrew Craig Nicol, has seen off the threat that the inclusion of the library in the Sites and Policies Plan would have brought.

"It was always clear that the Labour administration did not have a leg to stand on when they said they merely wanted to 'retain and improve the library'.

"The question was then, why include it in the sites and policies plan with a proposed change of use, which would have enabled commercial developers to circle the property?

"Labour have admitted defeat in the face of the strong reaction from residents, and have said they will remove it from the offending document."