Proposals for a housing development on green belt land in Purbeck, which includes affordable rental homes, have been rejected by the district council’s planning board.

A social housing association wants to build 16 affordable homes for the rental market, and seven houses for the open market on land at Deans Drove, Lytchett Matravers.

However, Purbeck District Council’s (PDC) planning committee rejected the scheme.

A committee spokesman explained: “The committee resolved to refuse the application because the site is not within close proximity to, and is not served by, sustainable transport providing access to local employment, shops, services and community facilities.

“Additionally, evidence had not been submitted to demonstrate that the site is the only realistic option in the parish that can provide affordable homes.”

Many neighbours have long fought against the redevelopment of the land, arguing the additional traffic, the site’s green belt status and other environmental considerations make it unsuitable.

Lytchett Matravers Parish Council was also firmly against the latest proposals.

The applicant, Stonewater Housing Association, which in 2013 expressed a wish to build 35 homes on the same plot, says it has held discussions with the community.

In 2015 it dropped the number of proposed homes on site to 23.

However, neighbour Peter Tipping, in his submission to planning officers which opposed the project, said: “So far as I understand, the only justification for encroaching on the green belt at all was the houses were needed. And the only justification for market value houses in the application at all was that they were needed for the development to go ahead at all.

“We now see a proposal which does less to meet any need.”

He added: “The original proposal should now be seen as the thin end of a wedge and this change is an attempt to hammer the wedge a bit further.”

Stonewater Housing wants to redevelop the 1.14 hectare site, which is located to the south of Deans Drove close to the junction with Foxhills Road.

Meanwhile, neighbour Pamela Griffin said: “This proposed development is crazy considering the location and density.

“Foxhills Lane is narrow and already dangerous with no footpaths, no room for two cars to pass and heavily used by dog walkers and horse riders.”

A report from council officers to planning committee members explained: “Whilst new residential development would not normally be permitted in the open countryside and green belt, given the proven need for affordable housing in the parish - subject to a legal agreement to secure the long term retention of the affordable dwellings - officers are of the view that all significant planning matters have been appropriately and adequately addressed.”

The Lytchett Neighbourhood Plan, which has been adopted, sets out an aspiration to promote affordable housing for residents with a connection to the village. PDC’s housing register identifies 33 households with a proven local connection to the Lytchett Matravers.