A developer has withdrawn a planning application to demolish houses owned by people opposed to his plan to build a block of flats.

Lee Jose, of LJ Construction, has been trying for five years to gain permission for the four-storey development in Bedford Road, South Woodford, but repeated applications have been turned down by Redbridge council.

The planning committee agreed with the people of Bedford Road, who said the development, which involved knocking down existing buildings, was out of keeping with the area.

And in an unusual move, Mr Jose applied to demolish two neighbouring houses and build flats, despite not owning them.

Anyone can apply for planning permission for any site in principle, and it was believed Mr Jose was attempting to set a precedent, enabling him to press ahead with his original plan.

But the application was withdrawn today by Mr Jose before he could find out whether he had been successful.

Sue Brown, 49, of who lives in one of the houses, believes the withdrawal was due to the objection letters sent by her and others living in Bedford Road to the council.

She said: “We are very pleased that the application has been withdrawn. The support from people in Bedford Road has been brilliant and our objections seem to have been heard. This is still not finished as the fight has gone on for five years, but we will wait and see Mr Jose’s next move.

“Obviously though, we are delighted with the good news and hope this is the end of the fight, but we are not betting on it.”

Mr Jose could not be contacted.