A plan for holiday homes off Bowleaze Coveway, Weymouth have been rejected by Dorset Council.

But councillors struggled to find a reason which would stand up if taken to appeal – asking for help with the wording from officers who had earlier advised they should agree the outline application.

During a five minute adjournment the agent and architect, Laura Ashworth, had to challenge councillors to stop discussing the application while the meeting was suspended and officers out of the room – or give her the right to reply.

During the debate Wyke Regis councillor Kate Wheller criticised a comment from a resident objecting to development: “I found the comments about council tax a little bit offensive – just because you pay a high amount of council tax it doesn’t mean you are exempt from holiday homes next to you,” she said.

Cllr Wheller said that the fact the application was for holiday homes, rather than permanent homes, would be seen by some as a positive, although she later joined other committee members to vote against.

Ward councillors Tony Ferrari and Louie O’Leary both spoke against the application as did fellow Weymouth councillor, committee vice chair David Gray.

In the end councillors voted to reject the application because of the effect they believed it would have on the green space between the last house to the east on the hill and the start of the Cove holiday development in the dip at the bottom of the hill.

Each of the other suggestions made for rejecting the application by councillors was knocked back by officers – including that the site was outside of the Defined Development Boundary, that parking was inadequate, that road safety would be a concern and that the area was prone to coastal erosion.

Biodiversity objections were also rejected because the developers had agreed to maintain a strip of land for wildlife, a pledge supported by Natural England.

Council officers had suggested approving outline permission but limiting the use of the site to ten years after which the owners could re-apply.

The application for up to six beach hut-style holiday homes had been reduced from ten after objections about over-development, including a unanimous vote from Weymouth Town Council to reject the application.

The site, next to and below No 61, is currently a field, where previous applications, for permanent homes, had been rejected in the past.

Officers had said in their report that the holiday home scheme was acceptable in its general visual impact and would not result in any significant harm to the area. Highways officers had not raised an objection and the temporary permission was suggested because of the fear of further land erosion.

Planning officers said that the application was for ‘in principle’, consent and that many of the concerns raised could be resolved at the next stage of the planning process: “Any reserved matters applications would need to consider the visual impact in terms of scale and design but at this ‘in principle stage’ it is considered that the development of up to 6 holiday units could be achieved that would not be unduly prominent in terms of the neighbouring properties and the local character… The proposal is also considered acceptable subject to conditions in relation to drainage, land instability and biodiversity,” said a report.

Each of the units could sleep up to six people and would be connected to mains water, electricity and the sewerage system.

The applicants argued said that the proposed density would be similar to that of the nearby holiday park and is appropriate to the location, adding to the area’s offering of holiday accommodation and helping the local economy.