A bid to open up a field threatened with development for community use took a significant step forward after the company which owns the land promised to negotiate with a residents' group.

The Wanstead Society was last night given planning approval for a plan to open the land, known as Evergreen Field, in High Street to the public.

Landowner Dalco Developments, which wants to build homes on the land, opposed the application on the grounds that it is privately owned and has been closed off for 50 years.

Speaking on behalf of Dalco's owner Dalbir Singh Sanger, agent Dez Stowe said: "My client has plans for a small development there, with the addition of handing over 50 per cent back to the community in a very similar scheme."

But Wanstead Society vice-chair, Eileen Flinter, argued that the field is an exceptional case.

She said: ""We feel that Evergreen Field adds something special to the high street.

"We are hoping to use the land to hold events and for access for the quiet enjoyment of the community."

After councillors on planning committee west unanimously supported the application, Mr Stowe described the decision as a 'stepping stone' and agreed to negotiate with the society on the future of the field.

He said: "We will have a meeting with the society and hopefully come to an agreement for both parties.

"Something has got to be done with the land. It can’t be left for another 50 years – we won’t be around to see it.

"One thing is for certain Dal is not going to put his hand in his pocket and pay for work the Wanstead Society want because there is no benefit to him."

Mr Sanger had previous threatened to turn the site into a vegetable patch if his plans were not approved and recently claimed a group from the Middle East wanted to purchase the site and build a large mosque.

But Redbridge Council has insisted that a large-scale development of the site, which is in a conservation area, would contravene its policy on green spaces.

Ms Flinter said she was 'thrilled' with the committee's decision.

She added: "Now it’s time to look towards a longer term future for Evergreen Field, working with the council and the developer."

Society chairman Scott Wilding, said: "It is a brilliant result for us and a brilliant result for the community."