WEST Devon planners have approved a gypsy and traveller caravan site in Sampford Courtenay.

Permission for two pitches at Berrydown Farm was granted this week after the planning committee heard from Amy Fitzpatrick, who has lived on the site as a traveller on and off for ten years.

There were 23 letters of objection against the application by Miss Fitzpatrick and Mr Romano but it was supported by Sampford Courtenay Parish Council and the local ward member Cllr David Weeks. The main concern of objectors was that the site could expand in the future.

Miss Fitzpatrick said she and Mr Romano were horse-drawn travellers who had travelled their whole adult lives, living and working with horses.

She said she bought the land at Berrydown in 1999 and had lived there as a traveller so her son could go to the local school. She wanted to stay so her son and two daughters could continue their education in the area.

'If we cannot stay at Berrydown there will be nowhere for my family to live and we would not be able to live with our animals,' she said.

The committee was told that there appeared to be peaceful and integrated co-existance between the occupiers of the site and the local community and there was no reason to think this would not continue.

It was suggested that temporary permission could be given for three years but this was rejected by the council as it would 'provide no certainty to the occupiers of their future'.

Cllr John Young said the site had been in use for a number of years and with no disapproval from neighbours or the parish council

'I do not see why we need to add any particular restrictive conditions on this. Let them continue as it is.'

Each pitch will have permission for a mobile home and a more traditional gypsy wagon.

Cllr Dilwyn Hughes asked how the site would be policed so it did not expand, but chairman Philip Sanders said the council relied on members of the public and parish councillors as they moved around the area to inform them if things were not as they should be.

'We are not in the habit of going around like a police force,' he said. 'We are the same as any other council in that we rely on local people to let us know if planning applications are not being complied with.'

The applicants will be asked to submit a landscape plan so more trees can be planted around the site to make it less visible to neighbours.

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