A public inquiry will start next week into a controversial gypsy encampment near Stratford-upon-Avon.

Around 100 gypsies moved on to a field at Darlingscott, in Shipston-on-Stour, in March after buying the land in 2007.

They set up water and electrical supplies, a septic tank and paving. Days before moving on to the site the gypsies made a planning application to change the use of the land to house a 16-pitch gypsy site with access road, hardstanding and dayrooms.

That planning application was refused by Stratford-on-Avon District Council in July for “harming the rural character of the area.”

But Ernest Wilson and families appealed against the decision and now a public inquiry starts on December 16.

The council refused the application on the basis that the development “harmed the visual amenity and the rural character of the area in this visually prominent location.”

At the time, Zack Follows, from the site, said the gypsy community had nowhere to go as the council had failed to provide sites for it.

Mr Follows, aged 31, said the people who were living at the site were all taxpayers and had legitimate businesses.

The inquiry is expected to last for three days and will be held at The Town Hall, in Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 10am.

A government planning inspector will preside over the inquiry.

Documents relating to the appeal can be viewed at the council offices by prior arrangement. Anybody interested in seeing the documents should contact Lucy DeDomenico on 01789 260140.

Members of the public may attend the inquiry and express their view – at the discretion of the Inspector.

n Any interested parties that want to contact the Planning Inspectorate they can do so by writing to Roger Thomas, 3/26a, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN, or by calling 0117 372803.