DORSET Council will continue to restrict the sale of houses on a new development in West Lulworth as second homes, despite being warned against the move.

On Wednesday, its eastern area planning committee voted against an application to remove the condition attached to the scheme for the School Lane site.

Councillor Cherry Brooks, who represents South East Purbeck, said: “This policy is there to try and stop this gradual destruction of village life.

“The issue is whether we are doing the right thing for our residents – to protect our villages and make sure they don’t become tumble weed towns.

“We would be letting them down if we didn’t do this.”

The challenge was made by Willton Homes following three appeal decisions in which the council’s use of a policy from the yet-to-be-finalised Purbeck Local Plan was ruled “unreasonable”.

Planning inspectors said unresolved objections to the policy, although most were concerned about it not going far enough, meant it could not be relied on by the council.

Four similar applications for developments totalling 40 homes are also under consideration across the Purbeck area.

At Wednesday's meeting planning officer Peter Walters said it was unlikely the council would be able to defend an appeal should it refuse the application.

“In light of a number of recent appeal decisions that have determined that only limited weight can be given to the policy, it is considered that planning permission should be granted for the removal of the condition," his report said.

He said the council would also be at risk of having to pay costs if an appeal was lost.

But West Lulworth Parish Council urged the committee not to “concede” on the issue and instead “do what is morally right” by keeping the condition.

“Please reject this cynical attempt to undermine what’s essential for our community by sending a clear message to developers today, and for the future, that this council intends to uphold its priorities,” its representative, councillor Sarah Jackson, said.

Willton Homes’ agent Adam Bennett said the committee should follow the advice of its planning officers.

“This is a completely new policy which needs to be considered by an inspector to ensure it’s sound,” he said. “At the moment there is no basis on which to impose it.”

But the committee voted six to four in favour of rejecting the developer's request.

Councillor Beryl Ezzard said: “Allowing these to be sold as second homes would make a huge difference to the village and the reverberations would be great.

“It’s vital that we make sure we stand up for our small villages and the importance of this policy.”

An update on progress towards the completion of the local plan for Purbeck is expected in January.