RESIDENTS living in 30 chalets will face eviction from the homes during the winter.

Tendring Council has been trying to stop people living in chalets in Point Clear, St Osyth, in breach of winter occupancy rules for a number of years.

The homes are in flood risk zones and are not allowed to be occupied between November and February.

Residents appealed against enforcement notices and a planning inspector held an inquiry in June.

This week the council, which served enforcement notices on 78 properties, said it welcomed the inspector’s decision not to allow some chalet residents to remain in their homes year-round.

Residents appealed against 47 of the notices - but 30 of the cases were upheld by the inspector.

The inspector said although she sympathised with the residents’ plight, their safety was paramount.

She recognised the importance of residents’ personal circumstances, but said it was outweighed by the flood risk.

Council leader Neil Stock said the council would work with residents to support them in finding alternative accommodation for the winter.

“What residents and the council have wanted for a long time now is clarity over the situation, and this decision by the inspector provides us with that clarity,” he said.

“The situation is far from ideal, and we will now work with affected residents and support them through our housing procedures.

“The decisions allow residents time to make proper, planned for arrangements on where they will live during the period of non-occupation.

“There is a 14-month period for compliance with the inspector’s decision.

“We completely understand the stress and anxiety this must cause residents, and hope this ruling at least provides clarity for the years ahead.

“As climate change predicts a rise in sea levels this is a problem which is not going away.”

The inspector also ruled that the council was out of time for taking action in 17 of the cases as the the condition had been breached for a continuous period of ten years or more.

It led to criticism that the council had wasted an estimated £178,000 of taxpayers’ cash in its bid to evict people from their homes.

Mr Stock added: “There has been some criticism of the costs incurred by the council in defending these appeals, however, not only is the cost per case lower than a standard appeal, what price would people put on lives?”

The council said it is considering the implications of the decisions.

Former councillor Richard Everett, who has been fighting on behalf of chalet owners, called on the council not to pursue any action against the 17 cases that were dismissed.

He added: “I don’t want to see a fight continue between the council and the residents - with a bit of dialogue we can come to a sensible resolution.

“We need to talk about how the council can either house them elsewhere or whether there is a mechanism by which they can stay in their homes.

“Some residents in Point Clear are some of the poorest in the district and the council have a duty of care to look after them.”

He added: “It’s not fair to throw them out of their houses with nowhere to go - there’s no where else many of them can afford to go.”