Residents have threatened a legal battle with the council against plans to build a housing development directly behind their backgardens.

Wallington's Harcourt Road, Harcourt Field and Manor Way residents attended a meeting with Sutton Council representatives last week to discuss plans to cram 17 houses in a piece of land off Harcourt Avenue currently occupied by four bungalows.

At the meeting, they warned the council of the existence of a restrictive covenant for the land which forbids the building of the type and amount of houses proposed on the site and said they would take legal action to enforce it.

A statement read by Natalie Lockerer, a Manor Community Residents’ Association member at the meeting said: “In addition to alerting you to this in our initial objection letters in June, we subsequently put every councillor and the relevant officers formally on notice that we intend to enforce the covenant by obtaining an injunction to prevent work that breaches the covenant, and to seek our legal costs of doing so from those who breach the covenant.”

In response to the statement, executive head of community living at Sutton Council, Simon Latham, said: “We obviously have acknowledged the existence of that covenant. We’re seeking legal advice to deal with it. We do have the experience of dealing with these covenants and our lawyers are working on it at the moment.”

Dozens of people living around Harcourt Road were at the meeting chaired by Councillor Colin Stears, executive member for adult social services, and also attended by Nick Macarthur, the architect responsible for the project.

Other issues raised at the meeting by residents included lack of support from their local MP, Tom Brake, environmental concerns and a possible lack of school places to accommodate children who would be moving into the area.

Mr Latham claimed at the meeting Sutton Council had to use every suitable space in the borough to fulfil a target of providing 660 affordable houses in the next three years, according to guidelines from the Greater London Authority.

Mr Brake said: “There are still two matters which require further investigation; restrictive covenants and wildlife. If these matters are clarified, the plans, which I accept involve building on what was backgarden land, represent a compromise.

“They are a compromise between the need to preserve the environment and the importance of providing decent homes for local people living in overcrowded or totally inadequate homes.’