There is hope a derelict grade II-listed pub at the heart of a long-running legal dispute between its owner and tenant could be saved by the community.

A group of campaigning squatters moved into the abandoned Doctor Johnson Pub, in Longwood Gardens in Barkingside, in May in an attempt to bring it back into use.

But a week later they voluntarily left after security employed by the pub's owners, Cloverton Properties turned up at the pub.  

Now the squatters, who are members of group Suspenses Property Guardians, are hoping to register the site as an 'Asset of Community Value' (ACV) in order to secure its future.

This will allow them and the community time to develop a bid and raise the money to buy the building if it is put on the market.

The ACV was introduced in September 2012 as part of the Localism Act 2011 with the aim of giving communities the opportunity to take control of facilities in their neighbourhood. 

The group has today spoken to local businesses in Barkingside and gathered the 21 signatures necessary to apply for ACV status. This will now be submitted to Redbridge council.

Suspenses Property Guardians spokesman Gee, 41, is still hoping to strike a deal with the Colverton to re-open the pub, but the landlord is in a long-running legal dispute with the tenant, Spirit Pub Company.

He  said: "Registering the building as a community asset is just one of the things we're doing to protect this pub.

"We're not going to let this lie. We have to get this buildling and I will do whatever it takes legally.

"Something needs to be done and the only reason we took up residence in the pub is because members of the public contacted us about its abandonment."

The Spirit Pub Company took over the grade II listed pub three years ago in the hope of re-opening it as a pub, but the company is now trying to sever its ties with Cloverton Properties Limited.