As bulldozers moved in to Parkview Road, Ealing, (left) to begin work on building 15 flats where two houses once stood, residents issued a writ seeking an injunction to prevent the development.
The legal challenge is the latest round in a six-year campaign to preserve the character of Hanger Hill, where homes fetch up to pounds 500,000.
Campaigners, including Ted Dexter, the former England cricketer and selector, hope the High Court will uphold covenants, drafted in the late 19th century, to restrict building on the Hanger Hill estate to one house per plot.
'We are perfectly entitled to challenge the developers, who have most things on their side: cash, planning regulations,' said Mr Dexter, who lives behind Ealing Cricket Club, round the corner from Park View Road.
'My worry is this development will lead to more of our green area being built on, and those green bits are very important. They make life in the city bearable.'
The Hanger Hill Estate Residents' Association campaign leader, Victor Mishiku, said: 'The imposition of an ugly three-storey block and two 15-foot garages, plus parking space, will create a total eyesore in what is Ealing's finest street.
'This is tampering with the original design of Ealing, which is world-famous.'
A 50-year-old Park View Road resident said: 'This development is totally unsympathetic and out of character in this elegant road. Something this nasty would not even have been accepted in less salubrious areas.
'I moved here because the greenery - the hydrangeas and azaleas - remind me of my native Darjeeling. I want that protected.'
The row began in 1988, when developers won permission from Ealing council to demolish two 1920s homes, worth pounds 400,000 each, and replace them with 15 flats, garages, parking and access road.
Alan Gillett, a resident, went to the High Court. The development stalled but the homes were demolished.
In January the land was sold to Beechcroft Investments and builders Stokebrook Homes, who applied to build nine houses. But this was also opposed by residents, so the developers revived the plan for 15 flats.
Beechcroft Investments said it had tried to consult residents to discuss ways of reducing the development's impact, but the meeting had been cancelled.
Beechcroft has until the end of the month to lodge a defence in the High Court. A judge will then decide whether a full hearing is appropriate.
Mr Dexter recently joined fellow Hanger Hill resident and BBC broadcaster Chris Serle in putting his name to a 1,000-strong petition demanding the area be given conservation status. Ealing council is considering the request.
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