Hundreds of people have signed a petition against a car park being tuned into a car lot.

Chigwell Motor Company has applied to change the use of the site in Chigwell Road, Woodford Bridge, to store 45 cars.

The company purchased the site six months ago and is already using it to store vehicles, it is claimed.

Nearby shopowners who say customers have nowhere to park have started a campaign against the move.

A petition with more than 500 signatures has been submitted to Redbridge Council opposing the application.

Hannah Hatt, manager of Hopscotch charity shop, said: “We only heard about the planning application last week but we have been having problems for months now.

"It is really affecting us terribly, and we are all fed up.

"Customers ring in asking where to park and we have to tell them we don’t have anywhere.”

Len Kaye, owner of Hair on the Green, said: “They have been occupying the car park for ages with their cars.

"There is nowhere for customers to park and no disabled parking either, so if this application is passed it will be a disaster for our trade.”

Alan Walker, 74, Roding Lane North, said: “Especially on Saturday mornings it is impossible to park anywhere to access the shops. Being on a main road it is dangerous for me to walk.

"I think if this planning application goes through it I just would not shop here again.”

Chigwell Motor Company has defended its decision to use the car park.

Sales representative Bobby Khan said: “We need space to hold our cars and we don’t have a choice.

"We are being blamed for all their problems, but we own the land.

"If they want to pay rent to let their customers park there then we would allow that, but they refuse.”

Redbridge Council is due to make a decision on the application on Monday.