The council has been forced into a U-turn over plans to build over green space in west Reading after residents raised concerns.

An online petition to save Southcote Farm Lane has received more than 650 signatures in four weeks.

The council called the space ‘underutilised land’ in a consultation sent out to local residents on plans to build council homes on the land between Barn Close and Southcote Parade.

Ward councillors have since reassured the community that no open space will be lost but reiterated the need for council housing in the area.

Resident Lucy Burrowes, who co-runs the petition with her sister, has been encouraged by the response from local councillors.

She said: "When I first heard of it I was quite shocked and upset.

"I just couldn't understand why they were building on the park and leaving the derelict garages behind, especially now I've learnt only two are really used.

"After [councillor] John Ennis spoke to me I was quite reassured as it meant we had someone who could actually get a reply from the council on our side.

"My concerns are that the council doesn't understand our main objections.

"Every time I walk past the park on my way to school, I see people playing in the grassy area- kicking a ball about, playing it or sometimes just making daisy chains.

"Local residents have seen bats, newts, deer and hedgehogs in the hedgerow area.

"The building would mean getting rid of this area."

Southcote councillors have asked the council to go back and look at the plans and come up with alternatives.

Cllr Ennis, lead member for Housing, said: “There has been a lot of opposition to moving the park and we agree with the petition.

“It is vital that we build council homes but we do not want to build on the park.

“We believe we can use the derelict garages to build onto or move the park.

“I reckon we could increase the park space.”

Concerns were also raised over increased traffic and parking on Barn Close but Cllr Ennis said the access would be on Southcote Farm Lane.

Residents in Barn Close had previously said they felt “very let down” by the council; they were particularly concerned about the losing most of the green space and the lack of alternatives in the area.

They also disagreed with the claim that the land is underutilised.