A DECISION on the future of a playing field in North Harrow has been deferred as the battle to save the green space from housing continues.

Families living near St George's Church playing fields, in Pinner View, have been campaigning for more than 20 years to save the open land after numerous applications by the church to sell the space for housing.

A new scheme of 15 flats and 12 houses, which has been submitted and was set to be approved at a planning committee meeting last night (Wednesday), has been deferred by Harrow Council so that a more thorough consultation can be carried out.

The new designs will now go in front of a planning committee in September, and if it is granted, 57 per cent of the remaining field will be handed to Harrow Council for public use.But campaigners say this is not enough, and believe the entire site should be made available to the public.

Kingsfield Estate Residents' Action Group has fought the plans since 1989 and gathered more than 300 signatures in a petition against the plans.

Marion Garner-Patel, a member of the action group, said: "Lots of people are very angry, tired and upset at the persistence to get this perfectly usable open space turned into an overdeveloped eyesore.

"My three children used the space as guides and it seems that boroughs like Harrow could do with keeping as much open space for our children as possible. We should have access to the entirety of the site, not just some of it. I think we are in more desperate need of open space than housing."

Ms Garner-Patel added that people against the proposal were disappointed at the handling of the application by the Labour group on Harrow Council, who she said were backed at the polls because of their insistence on saving the site.

Campaigners have been battling plans to build housing on the site since an application was withdrawn on the site for 40 houses in 1989.

Since then, the church has seen two more applications refused and lost an appeal with the planning inspectorate in 2008. However, when the appeal was rejected, the inspectorate gave the church recommendations for a new proposal, which could be granted.

Bill Stephenson (Lab), leader of the council, campaigned alongside residents to prevent the application when he was in opposition and said he would continue to do what he could to save the open space, which is in his Headstone South ward.

He said: "We have totally kept our promise in our objections to this proposal and we will continue to do our utmost to object to it.

"The matter has now been deferred and I am organising a meeting between the chief planning officer and residents to see what we can do.

"Ultimately, it is a planning matter and sometimes there is little we can do. It has gone before an appeals panel before and has been rejected, and if we think it will be rejected again we will refuse the application.

"I will certainly be at the meeting representing my ward but it will be as a backbencher. We hope there is something we can still do to stop this going through."

The Reverend Stephen Keeble, of St George's Church, could not be reached for comment.