A contentious planning application for a multi-storey housing project will be allowed to go ahead despite restrictions at the site that prevent residential developments.

Harrow Council leader Cllr Graham Henson confirmed it would not, at this stage, enforce a covenant at the site in The Ridgeway, West Harrow, that only permits non-residential use.

There are plans to build 178 new homes across blocks of up to seven storeys, alongside a new health centre, next to West Harrow Recreation Ground and allotments.

However, they have been met with strong opposition from residents, who suggested the development will have a detrimental effect on the surrounding area.

Cllr Henson said the developer – The Gospel Hall Trust – is within its rights to apply for planning permission for the scheme.

At the same time, he said there is currently no intention to lift the covenant but that it was a separate matter that would be discussed by the council’s cabinet.

But Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Conservatives, urged the council to “put residents out of their misery” by informing developers that the covenant will be upheld, and it cannot go ahead.

“This is an inappropriate development – it’s out of character with the area and would dwarf anything nearby,” he said.

“The council has the ability to say ‘no’ to this. We should draw a line under it and stop this application even if it were to get planning permission.”

He was supported by Cllr Marilyn Ashton, Harrow Conservatives spokesperson on the planning committee, who said she was “puzzled” as to why the council would not tell the developers of its position on the covenant.

“It seems odd that someone would spend all that time, effort and money on a planning application without any indication of whether the covenant would be lifted,” she said.

Cllr Henson explained that there have not been any requests to lift the covenant, so the council has not been required to make a decision on it.

And he repeated his view that, while he is personally aware of the issues surrounding the proposals, any planning application is separate to the covenant.