Residents are looking to the future after learning that a millionaire developer has formally withdrawn his plans to turn a sports ground behind their homes into a cemetery.

Irish millionaire Ben Dunne shelved his planning application to convert the old BBC Sports Ground in Motspur Park into a cemetery, people living near the open space were officially told on Friday.

John Moore, who is chairman of the Motspur Park Residents’ Association, said: “The committee who have worked very hard to do this are over the moon. We were all contacting each other and slapping our backs.

“We are trying to bring together all the bodies who are interested in sports - Fields In Trust, Fulham FC - with Mr Dunne to see what common ground there is and how it can proceed.

“Everybody here would like to see the ground revert back to its former glory.”

Mr Dunne’s company bought the 20.5 acre (8.3 hectares) site more than three years ago to build a leisure centre but the plans were scrapped when council officials pointed out the rules on Metropolitan Open Land.

More than 100 people signed a petition on Kingston Council\s website appealing for it to be returned to recreational use.

Residents whose houses back onto the sports ground welcomed the news.

One woman in Bargate Close said: “I think it is fantastic.”

Another in Ancaster Crescent said: “It is good news because we need open land. We used to just look over the fence and see sports being played.”

Councillor Howard Jones said: “This is good news. It would be good if Mr Dunne came forward to work with us.”

Kingston Liberal Democrat MP Edward Davey posted leaflets about the news through doors at the weekend but was criticised by the association for “claiming the credit”.

“He shouldn’t have written that letter,” Mr Moore said.

“We have had absolutely no help from him.”

Mr Davey said he had simply sent the newsletter to let people know his position.

He said: "I'm sorry if I put his nose out of joint but I would pay tribute to him and the residents and also to everyone involved."

It is not known what Mr Dunne’s plans are for the site which it is believed he paid around £3m for.

He was not available for comment.