The council has binned controversial plans to pave over a green and put a car park in its place.

Since early last year residents of Marlescroft Way have been fighting to halt plans to destroy the green at the centre of the estate in order to house the motors of the 70 to 80 council maintenance staff working at Oakwood Hill.

Just shy of 900 people signed a petition opposing the plans and came out in protest at the weekend, furious that the application had been called to a full council meeting by Conservative councillors despite losing a popular vote in a regional planning committee.

In response to the pressure Epping Forest District Council scrapped the plans.

Councillor Syd Stavrou, deputy leader, said: “I have stopped the planning application

"Parking is becoming an increasing problem on our congested roads.

"Marlescroft Way was put forward to help alleviate some of the pressure by creating a small car park for staff using the nearby council depot during the day, which could also have been used by residents in the evenings and at weekends.

"However, the project has met with significant objections. This was always a finely balanced decision.

"The planning application was rejected at the planning committee stages and I feel we have to listen to local people.

"I have listened and decided the potential benefits of this car park don’t sufficiently outweigh the objections.

"We will revisit our use for the depot and try to find other ways of helping our staff get to work.”

A special Council meeting to discuss the planning application on 18 March has now been cancelled.

Those who opposed the scheme rejoiced at the news.

A spokesperson for the Loughton Residents Association, which spearheaded the opposition, said: "Residents, together with LRA Cllr Chris Roberts and his LRA colleagues, have been fighting to prevent the District Council grabbing their only bit of green space – highly valued as a children’s play-space and for events.

"We don’t think that the car-park is needed or justified, as there’s enough parking available at the roadside.

"Nor do we think the Council should be judge and jury on their own planning applications.

"This week, two weeks before the planned meeting, the Council has withdrawn its planning application."

Cllr Stavour said the plans were an "honest attempt" to help the depot move in to its new home.

She added: "We will look at other ways of configuring the depot to allow for more on-site parking without preventing access to our tractors, mowers, vans and customers bringing vehicles for MoTs.

“Some people will draw comparisons between the plans for this car park and plans to build homes on part of Jessel Green and other places across the district.

"I would only say that I feel there is a difference. Parking close to home or work is a nice thing to have.

"In an ideal world we all want it, but housing for local families in desperate need is an entirely different issue. There is a genuine shortage of housing. We don’t all need cars but everyone needs a place to live."