People struggling to get on the housing ladder have added their voices to the growing debate about what to do with a much-loved open space.

The future of Evergreen Field, just off Wanstead High Street, has been thrust into the spotlight since developer Dalbir Singh Sanger announced plans to nine homes and two shops on the site.

The proposal was met with fury from conservation groups, and prompted a pledge from Redbridge Council to use all their powers to keep the field free from housing.

Advertising executive Matt Keen, 39, rents a flat with his wife in New Wanstead, and the couple have been hoping to buy a home for the past five years.

He said: “My wife and I both have good jobs, but we have found getting on the property ladder difficult.

“We had a look at houses on the Chepstow development and starting prices were around £265,000 for a one or two bed home - it's just out of budget.

"At some point, someone will build on the Evergreen site, and it’s a case of what ends up being built there, so let’s put our heads together and build something for the benefit of the community.

“I mean what is the council protecting? It’s a rat-infested field at the end of the day.”

Teacher Conor Walsh, 32, lives in a one-bedroom house in New Wanstead, and has been saving for a deposit on a home of his own for the past eight years.

He said: “The land is just sitting there doing nothing and it’s been like that for years.

“I love Wanstead and want to stay here, but the price some estate agents want for houses is diabolical.

"As soon as they know you are not a cash buyer, they become so arrogant.

"I need to live, I need to survive. I can't have 60 to 70 per cent of my salary spent on a mortgage."

Mr Sanger has said he intends to apply for permission to develop the site, but has not yet confirmed when he will do that.