RESIDENTS of Tall Trees Park will "carry on fighting" after their application to remove conditions on the site's planning permission was refused by councillors.

At an emotionally charged meeting of Christchurch Borough Council's Planning Committee, members were advised by officers to refuse the application - which would allow residents to permanently occupy their homes - as doing otherwise would be unlawful.

Councillors on the committee took this advice and refused both applications before them, with four members supporting the refusal and one abstaining - Cllr Denise Jones.

Despite representatives of Tall Trees Park explaining the difficult situation they find themselves in, with a number being sold their homes in the belief they were buying residential dwellings which could be occupied all year round, the committee decided the legal view could not be overlooked.

After the meeting, Mandy Miller, who spoke on behalf of Tall Trees Home Owner’s Association before committee, said: "The general feeling from everybody who was at the meeting is the councillors would have liked to support it, but they were legally constrained.

"We were extremely disappointed and a couple of the councillors were in tears after reaching their decision.

"Going forward it was pleasing to see the support the councillors and officers had for us.

"The legal aspect was only put to us days before the meeting, which gave us no adequate time to build a response.

"We're going to carry on fighting. We haven't got the £600,000 of resources behind us like the council, but we are going to battle as hard as we can."

Christopher Chope MP, who has written to the secretary of state for communities and local government on the matter, spoke before the committee, but could not convince them to grant the application.

Summarising the situation before proposing to reject the application, Cllr Lisle Smith, acting chair at the meeting, said: "I don't like it, it's very emotive, but this is a legal question and we've been given the advice by counsel. We cannot accept this application."

Cllr Claire Bath, acting vice-chair, added: "It's a very difficult position for us to be in and I believe there are things that have been said by the speakers, including our MP, which need to be look into further."

Voicing her concerns about refusing the application, Cllr Denise Jones said: "I can see on a technicality these things are legal. I find extremely difficult looking at what has happened to say, "yes, we're upholding the law", but it seems we have broken the law in the past, we've made mistakes."

In response Cllr Spittle said: "I don't think we've broken the law. The law isn't applied in the way we wish it was."

Following the intervention of Stephen Moorhouse, legal services officer, Cllr Denise Jones comments were struck from the council records.

A total of 138 appeals for the Tall Trees site have been lodged to the Planning Inspectorate, however no date has been set as minister of state for communities and local government, Alok Sharma, confirmed the lawful development certificate appeal procedure had changed to an enquiry to allow evidence to be tested under appeal and is being linked with the enforcement appeals.

In December 2016, the council served enforcement notices on all the residents of the units on the site where they believed residential occupation was taking place.

The Tall Trees Home Owner's Association confirmed they would also appeal the latest decisions from the council.

A Dorset County Council investigation into whether residents were mis-sold homes was launched earlier this year and Ivan Hancock, Dorset County Council's trading services manager, told the Daily Echo the investigation was reaching its conclusion.