FEELINGS are still running high over the future of a Corfe Mullen woodland, as a crowd of 75 concerned residents packed into a East Dorset council meeting.

Stoney Down Plantation wasn't even on the agenda at the meeting of the full district council on Monday night - and only came up briefly - but it didn't stop people turning out in force.

Local resident Elizabeth Verth gave a five minute deputation to raise concerns about access to the site and its future use, and Cllr Sarah Burns, who said she had been "inundated with concerned residents" asked a question on the matter.

The private woodland, accessible by a public bridleway, has long been popular with riders and walkers. It was purchased in July 2015 by Paradise Farms Ltd and rumours have abounded over possible future uses - despite the fact that no planning application has yet been submitted.

As reported in the Echo the new owners had a rough reception when they presented plans for an eco-camping site of nine yurts at a meeting of the Corfe Mullen Parish Council on October. They later said they were "shocked and dismayed" at the "aggressive response" and told the Echo they had been "heckled" and "subjected to personal attacks" by some residents present.

At Monday's meeting in a question to council Cllr Burns said residents were worried about loss of access and referred to an "application to county to close access to the public" - something the owners refute.

She added: "The citizens of Corfe Mullen are very worried by this and want the council to support their wish to continue to use the many footpaths that they have been allowed by previous owners for over a hundred years."

She said people were "suspicious as to the intentions of the owners" and "concerned about being inundated with stag and hen parties in the locality and anti-social behaviour from the guests" using any yurts.

In an email response the owners said that the form they have submitted the the council "is not an application to restrict public access from the public bridleway." It adds: "We, as the owners of Stoney Down, are happy for people to walk/ride the land at their own risk, however the land is private land and it is not our intention to designate any additional public rights of way."

It quashes rumours of "paintballing and quad biking" and insists "all works being carried out are done so with the full knowledge and approval" of the relevant bodies.

The statement adds: "Scare mongering and rumours help no-one, as we have seen! We would much prefer people to contact us directly to discuss their concerns."