MID Devon District councillors will visit Hittisleigh to look at the likely impact a controversial barn conversion may have on the village.

Applicant John Milverton intends to convert the barn at Hittisleigh Barton into a training centre, holiday let and wedding venue.

Villagers say the use of the venue for civic weddings would have an impact on traffic in the village and their quality of life. The parish council has received more than 50 letters of objection and opposition to the plans.

The planning officer's report, discussed at the meeting of Mid Devon District Council's planning committee on June 1, had recommended approval of the scheme. Planning consent had already been granted for the barn to be used as a training room and a holiday let, but retrospective permission was being sought for alterations to the scheme, including the addition of the wedding venue.

Mr Milverton said there was a 'pressing need' to diversify from farming income in order to raise funds for the restoration of listed buildings on the site, and he believed hiring the barn out as a wedding venue was a possible way of achieving this.

He said: 'We would like to hold eighty to one hundred weddings a year, but generally weddings are mostly held on Saturdays in the summer months and we will be lucky if we get twenty-five bookings annually within the first three years.'

The planning meeting at Tiverton Town Hall was attended by around 20 Hittisleigh residents, who had all made the 90-minute round-trip to let their opinions be heard.

Cllr Derek Coren, ward member, said: 'Weddings are joyful occasions. There will be considerable noise from chatter and laughter, affecting neighbours.

'Although Hittisleigh is the farthest parish in Mid Devon from Tiverton it still deserves the full merit of our consideration and I believe a site visit should be made and the application deferred.'

Councillors agreed to send a working party to conduct a site visit to consider access to the site and the potential impact on the surrounding road network, as well as assessing the impact on the amenity of the local area.

A decision regarding the application has been deferred until the next meeting of the planning committee on June 29.