PLANNERS will decide next week whether to allow permission for a gypsy and traveller caravan site at Berrydown Farm, Sampford Courtenay.

Applicants Mr Romano and Ms Fitzpatrick have applied for consent for the change of use of land to two pitches for gypsy and traveller caravan use and the application has been recommended for approval by West Devon Borough Council's planning officers, subject to conditions.

The proposal, which will be discussed at a planning and licensing meeting in Tavistock next Tuesday, has received 23 objections from local residents.

Comments range from 'inappropriate in this area' to 'lanes are unsuitable for large vehicles and access' and fears that a permanent gypsy/traveller site will be allowed on adjacent land.

The site is located in the open countryside on a track which leads to the site, adjacent fields and the Berrydown plantation, said planners.

The application will go before the planning committee at the request of ward member Cllr David Weeks.

Sampford Courtenay Parish Council has supported the proposal and Devon County Highways admits that although the proposal would cause some harm to patterns of travel, it would not be so detrimental as to be unacceptable.

Local authorities have to make provision for gypsies and travellers and there is a requirement for West Devon to provide six permanent pitches and five transit pitches by 2011.

As yet the authority has made no such allocation, despite appealing for landowners to come forward and offer sites.

Planning officers said the site was suitable from a location and visibility point of view as it was well screened and unobtrusive. The land had an acceptable method of clean water provision and sewage disposal and was not within a flood plain.

There were currently families living on the site who had integrated well into the school and the local community, said officers.