Campaigners have mounted a last-ditch bid to stop a high-rise development from going ahead near an area of family homes.

The first stage of a public inquiry into plans to build more than 1,000 homes on North London Business Park (NLBP) – which were previously turned down by Barnet Council and the Mayor of London – was held last week at Hendon Town Hall.

It followed developer Comer Homes’ decision to appeal to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government to overturn the rulings and give the green light to the regeneration plan.

People in nearby properties fear building tower blocks up to nine storeys high on the site would spoil the character of the area – mainly a neighbourhood of two-storey semi-detached houses.

Speaking at the hearing, MP for Chipping Barnet Theresa Villiers backed the council’s original decision, arguing the scheme could harm the environment and neighbours’ quality of life.

She said: “Barnet Council’s unanimous decision to turn down this planning application was the right one and I went to the inquiry to make the case for the developer’s appeal to be rejected.

“The area all around NLBP is low-rise suburbia, where very few buildings are more than two storeys.

“Building nine-storey tower blocks there would be completely inappropriate, and a proposed population increase probably topping 3,000 would put huge strain on traffic and parking in local roads and on public services.

“I strongly support home-building – and Barnet is delivering more than any other London borough – but these plans for NLBP are clearly an overdevelopment which would damage the local environment and quality of life. That is why I am backing the campaign by residents to stop them from going ahead.”

Martin Berliner, of Weirdale Ashbourne Residents’ Group, has been campaigning against the development for several years.

He said: “The organisation knows this needs to be developed, but not this type of development that changes the landscape completely around this site.

“There are no buildings like this in the borough.”

The inquiry was adjourned until November, when further evidence will be heard.

A spokesman for Comer Homes said: “We have made our submissions to the inquiry; the substantial evidence to the inquiry and those submissions also deal with the comprehensive range of benefits that would come with the development of the site.

“The scheme would provide for 1,350 new homes, together with, for example, a new school, more than six acres of public open space, and employment space tailored for local needs.

“The additional opportunities for youth training and apprenticeships created within the construction phases and the longer-term management of the development would bring lasting benefits for the younger members of the local community.”