Plans to convert the unused Mitcham fire station into flats has been labelled "hugely disappointing."

Documents seen by the Wimbledon Times confirmed that the site in Lower Green West has been purchased by Parkside Property Limited for £670,000.

Now plans (which are in the pre-application stage) to turn the station into seven flats has been criticised by secretary of civic society Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage, Tony Burton.

"This is a hugely disappointing outcome for such an important site," he said.

"It is a prominent and sensitive location adjacent to listed and locally listed buildings, including the war memorial for which we secured Grade II national listing only last year.

"A more hands on approach by Merton Council could have resulted in the building being converted into a much needed community arts centre."

He said that plans had been developed by the civic society alongside a theatre company to turn the space into an arts centre.

But with those plans now looking doubtful, Mr Burton wants the council to step in.

"There would have been no need for the building to go to auction if Merton Council had exercised its right of first refusal to purchase the building," he added.

"This would have been the soundest of investments that could have secured the building in a way that would have provided a much needed new community asset.

"Even now we understand that Merton Council controls the right of access over the pavement to the highway and so could exercise influence over and above its role as planning authority to secure the best outcome.

"We should be anticipating a new community arts centre opening in the old Mitcham fire station instead of facing the threat of its conversion and extension for flats.

"We ask Merton Council to raise its sights and use its own land and legal powers over buildings like the old fire station to achieve more for the local community."