A developer has won permission to build a large "co-living space" in South Woodford , despite concerns about "substandard, rabbit hutch-sized rooms".

The scheme in Chigwell Road will contain 45 rooms, each with their own kitchenette and bathroom, and a large communal space with a gym, laundry room and cafe on the lower floors.

The plans were approved by Redbridge Council’s planning committee at a meeting on October 14 despite opposition from 71 residents and local ward councillor Suzanne Nolan.

Concerns were also raised about how much developer Aslam Patel was paying (£100,000) towards affordable housing elsewhere in the borough.

However, lead planning officer Andrew Smith recommended the scheme, saying the council has less power to refuse new housing after failing to meet housing targets set by the Mayor of London.

He added: "We tried hard to push up the [£100,000], but we want to get a scheme built rather than refuse it… [then] we wouldn’t get housing at all."

Redbridge Council built only 59 per cent of its housing target of 1,123 homes for the last three years and, under the new London plan approved in March, that target is now 1,409 a year.

The committee also heard it has no power to oppose the plan based on the size of the rooms, as there is no legal standard for co-living buildings under the London Plan.

Planning agent Julian Sutton denied the scheme is "exploiting a loophole" to build a large house of multiple occupation (HMO), saying the lifestyle is "about community living".

He added: "One of the reasons co-living has increased is a change in working practices. It tends to be people, I won’t say millennials, who are already living in Redbridge and might want to live with people with charged interests and shared ideas."

However, Cllr Nolan argued the scheme is "essentially an upmarket HMO or hostel", adding: "I cannot imagine professionals will want to live in these developments with such exceedingly small rooms.

"South Woodford needs decent affordable housing for families, not substandard rabbit hutches. It is bulky and overbearing, with a neighbourly impact totally out of keeping with the area."

Barkingside Labour councillor Martin Sachs, who also spoke at the meeting, calculated the building would bring in £25million in rent over 25 years.

He said: "They should be paying us £1.7m [in affordable housing contribution], are they offering three quarters? A quarter? No, they are offering five and half percent.

"I urge the committee to think about whether its being unfairly shortchanged. I know the committee is under pressure due to central government delivery tests, but this is undermining the housing interests of many of our residents who have been stuck on waiting lists."

Conservative committee member Paul Canal, who voted against the scheme, said he was "actually embarrassed" it had appeared before the committee.

He said: "We should not be approving a development of 50 tiny rooms on this site in this area. On planning grounds, I cannot support it and, on moral grounds, I cannot support it."

However, Labour member Daniel Morgan-Thomas argued: "All we can achieve by refusing tonight, is at best it being turned down and us losing the appeal.

"On top of the meagre cost of contributions, it’s not pleasing, it’s not nice for the area, but I think it’s compliant on policy grounds."

Resident Rhys Thomas told the committee he was seriously considering a judicial review of the decision, calling it "undemocratic" and a "rubber stamp”.