PLANS for a new observatory where star gazers would be able to watch the night sky are set to be refused - despite supporters saying the site would be a “fantastic” facility for residents and schoolchildren.

York Astronomical Society applied for permission to install a steel container, which would be used as an observatory, on land at Beetle Bank Farm in Murton.

Planning documents say the society has been given notice to leave its current location and find a new home. The container would be installed in an open field behind the farm car park and would be painted green.

But City of York Council officers are asking members of the planning committee to refuse the application, saying it is an “inappropriate development” on Green Belt land.

Several people have written letters of support for the application, with one saying: “This is a great opportunity to reach out and provide a fantastic observatory for use by all the community of all ages, something that is lacking at the moment. I invite all to see a child’s face the first time they view a planet like Saturn through a telescope, it is truly magical.”

Another says: “York Astronomical Society is a charity run by an enthusiastic bunch of amateurs, and aims to bring astronomy to the general public.”

But a report by council officers says: “It is appreciated that the use of telescope equipment benefits from dark skies but this is not dependant on a Green Belt location. Edge of city or village sites would still provide reduced light pollution but would not conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt.”

The application will be decided at a meeting on Thursday at 4.30pm.