A petition calling for a local referendum on controversial plans to build several high-rise tower blocks in Walthamstow town centre has been rejected by council staff.

The local authority says it turned down a petition from members of the Save Our Square campaign because it “did not satisfy the requirements” of its petition scheme.

Plans for four blocks in the town square, the highest standing at 29 storeys, were given the green light the council in December, despite more than 700 formal objections from members of the public.

Critics have cited the height and location of the development, as well as the fact just 20 per cent of the 500 new homes will be allocated as “affordable” housing as potential problems.

Save Our Square has since called on the local authority to revoke planning permission if a “community ballot” proved local residents were against the scheme.

Campaigners say the council would have powers under the Town and Country Planning Act to reverse its planning committee’s decision to approve the scheme.

However, Waltham Forest Council says he has refused to accept the petition.

Sarah Wrack, the Save Our Square campaigner who submitted the petition, said: “The Town and Planning Act clearly states that councils can revoke permission if it appears expedient.

“The point of the petition and referendum would be to force them to see that it is expedient. We need this referendum precisely because the voice of the people has been silenced.

“I call on Waltham Forest councillors to stand up to the rule of the officers and demand that I have the right to launch a petition that is recognised by the council.”

Section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act states a local authority may revoke or modify planning permission it has granted if construction work on a scheme has not been completed.

However, Waltham Forest Council maintain the only way to reverse the decision now would be through a judicial review.

A council spokesman said: “The request for a petition was rejected as it did not satisfy the requirements of the Waltham Forest Council petition scheme.

“It would have been valid if it was presented before the decision on the Mall was taken – in those circumstances it would have been brought to the attention of the committee prior to the decision being made.

“Since the planning decision was made the proper process for challenging that decision is by way of a judicial review.”