THE new owner of a treasured green space has vowed to turn it into a "private vegetable patch" if he is denied permission to build homes.
Dalco Developments Ltd bought Evergreen Field in High Street, Wanstead, in May, prompting fresh fears the protected site would be vulnerable to development.
Redbridge Council has said the site, which is in a conservation area, has been designated as an open space and cannot be used for housing.
However, Dalco has drawn up plans for seven houses, two flats and two shops.
Director Dalbir Singh Sanger said he wants to work with the community on the best way to use the land, which has been empty for 15 years, and called for the council to rethink its stance.
He said: "The field is fenced off and isn't benefiting anyone and hasn't done for 15 years. It is a waste of land and we are trying to bring it back to the community.
"What we are saying is lets get our head together and work something out.
"If they don't want what we propose when we put in our application, we will go to appeal.
"If worse comes to worse we will grow our own vegetables there. There are so many things that we can do there which will be an eyesore to local people."
Mr Sanger has consulted with the Wanstead Society, which was formed to challenge development of the site 15 years ago.
It is now canvassing members on a formal response to the plan.
In a letter to members, which refers to the field as the "Emerald in Our Crown", the society's committee wrote: "We would like to see the Evergreen Field put to use as a sports/recreation facility.
"We would also like to see it used for outdoor performances and other events which would maintain and increase the footfall on the high street to make Wanstead a destination of choice.
"None of this is impossible. If we lose it, we lose it forever."
However, Mr Sanger believes development of the land is the best way forward.
He said: "I can't see the problem with a low key development."
"The council needs to rethink what they are talking about. There is no common sense in leaving it empty.
"It is like leaving a broken down car in the street without removing it."
Society spokesman Geoff Horsnell said: "Members think the best way to save it is to put our ideas forward and if the field comes back on the market to buy it.
"I think half of Wanstead will be up in arms over this. It is a very emotive subject.".