Campaigners were celebrating five years ago this week after plans to build hundreds of homes on a sports ground were rejected.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has blocked plans to build 600 homes on a much-loved sports ground.

Redbridge Council proposed to build on Oakfield Playing Fields in Barkingside as part of its Local Plan 2015-2030, which aims to deliver enough housing to meet targets over the next 15 years.

But after a fierce eight-year campaign by the Save Oakfield Society (SOS), the Mayor’s Office has stepped in to prevent the council releasing the land from the green belt and concreting over it.

In a letter to Redbridge’s planning department, assistant director of planning Stewart Murray said: “Having carefully considered the borough’s draft plan it is the Mayor’s opinion that while he supports many aspects of the plan, it is not in conformity with the London Plan.

“This is because it has not shown exceptional circumstances to support the proposed release of the green belt.”

SOS chairman Chris Nutt said he and his fellow campaigners are “very pleased with the news”.

He said: “It looks like the Mayor is finally listening to what we have been saying all along.

“It’s nice to see a politician actually delivering on their promises.”

Mr Khan promised to protect the green belt in his Mayoral election campaign, but has remained quiet on the issue until his official inspection of Redbridge’s Local Plan this month.

But Mr Nutt added campaigners will not rest until plans are officially thrown out.

He said: “Over the past eight years we have been told Oakfield has been lost and then years later that it has been saved.

“I might go and buy a bottle of the cheap stuff, but we won’t be buying champagne until we have it in writing."

London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge Keith Prince added: “This is fantastic victory for all of us who have campaigned to block this development on our precious green belt.

“It is so important that we protect our green spaces and I’m delighted the Mayor’s team has stepped in to save Oakfield for our community.”

But Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal believes Mr Khan’s rejections will not hold water under Government scrutiny.

He said: “The Mayor had an election promise to protect the green belt, and he’s doing what any decent politician would do, and is delivering on that promise.

“But every bit of evidence we have shows that if we don’t build on every bit of land we have, we will not have enough houses to meet demand.

“It’s out of our hands now, but if the Mayor rejects the Oakfield plan, the Government will have to step in later and impose it anyway.

“The Oakfield plan means we can provide the clubs with better facilities just 400m down the road and provide the housing we desperately need.”

Cllr Athwal said he expects the finalised Redbridge Local Plan to be put before the planning inspectorate by next summer.