A Romany Gypsy family which set up home in open countryside without consent after finding life on a council-run travellers’ site “intolerable” has been urged to reconsider its proposals or face having them rejected.

North Yorkshire Council’s Thirsk and Malton constituency planning committee saw councillors agree to postpone making a decision for two months on whether Oathie Sykes and his family, which includes nine children, should be allowed to stay living off Cornborough Road, Sheriff Hutton.

The deferral comes almost three years after the family moved onto the farmland after being subjected to “fly-tipping, raves, loud music playing, rat infestation and threats of violence” at the council’s Tara Park travellers’ site in Malton.

The meeting heard the family was seeking consent for four Gypsy pitches laid in a square, each featuring a static caravan, space for the siting of a touring caravan and two car parking spaces, as well as a permanent 15m by 8m amenity block.

An agent for the family told the meeting the family had occupied the site for three years and their personal circumstances “weighed heavily in favour of allowing them a settled base” to access education and health services.

In an extraordinary move for a council planning meeting, where normally all discussions and decisions are held in public, the gallery was cleared of residents as councillors were given extra information about the family’s personal circumstances.

The meeting heard officers state since the family had moved to the site near Sheriff Hutton from Tara Park in Malton there was no longer capacity there and therefore there were no available pitches for the family in the planning area.

However, objectors then pointed out there were plenty of available spaces at the council-run travellers’ site 12 miles away in Osbaldwick.

The meeting was told some 76 residents had lodged objections and none in support of the proposal, with many raising concerns over the impact on the countryside and claims the planned amenity building would be “a gross overdevelopment” given that caravans feature washing facilities.

The meeting heard the authority had received “a handful” of letters of objection that it had not published online due to “the nature of the material”.

An objector told the meeting planning officer’s support for the proposal was “heavily weighted on the personal circumstances of the applicant and his family, in particular the children” and the applicant appeared to be “flagrantly ignoring” planning constraints.

He said: “If this application was approved it would set a very dangerous precedent and what would be the message council would be sending to other residents, voters, council taxpayers?”

Councillor Caroline Goodrick, who represents Sheriff Hutton and chairs the committee, said she was concerned about the proposal as it was a significant development in open countryside and the amenity building would be permanent.

She said: “I just see this as a massive expansion of the site that is not necessary.

“I am deeply conflicted with this because I recognise there are special characteristics that I cannot ignore. There are children on the site who are entitled to an education.”

Before agreeing to allow the family to reconsider its proposal, several councillors said they were concerned about what the site would develop into if they gave consent to the family to remain.