THREE families of Travellers won the right to stay on Green Belt land close to a hotel.

The council had issued the families with an enforcement notice to leave the former landfill site near the Brook Meadow Hotel, Heath Lane, Childer Thornton.

Patrick Maloney, who has been on the site since 2009, challenged the notice, issued last July by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The inspector, Keri Williams, did find the change of use of the field was harmful to the openness of the Green Belt.

But he ruled the council had failed to suggest an available alternative site if they were forced to leave and that they should be given temporary permission to stay.

Although new sites are being planned by the council it is not clear when they will be ready.

Mr Williams said the families would suffer significant hardship if they were forced to leave and that a settled site would allow better access to medical, educational and other services for the families, which included nine children, two of whom require specialist healthcare.

He believed a temporary three- year permission, rather than a five-year approval suggested by Mr Maloney, would be acceptable.

The inspector quashed the enforcement notice and granted planning permission subject to conditions including the number of caravans and the site being occupied by seven named Travellers and their resident dependants.

Council spokeswoman Rachel Ashley said: “The council is committed to making provision in the borough for Gypsies and Travellers in accordance with identified needs and historic demand.

“We are currently carrying out site search study which will identify a shortlist of sites that are suitable, deliverable and available for Gypsy and Traveller pitches. This is nearing completion and will be published in the summer.”