A classroom in the Herefordshire countryside which provides training for children and young adults with health and social difficulties will have to close, officials have said.

Formed over eight years ago, Red Castle Training currently trains 34 young people referred to it by Herefordshire Council in a range of rural skills, and employs two full-time and one part-time staff.

It was previously was based at the Weobley Industrial Estate but had to move in early 2020 to Emily’s Meadow to the east of the town, and applied for permission to use a mobile cabin there as a classroom.

But the council rejected its application last February, due to road safety issues, the cabin's visual impact and its impact on local wildlife habitat.

The trainers appealed this decision, but now a government-appointed planning inspector has sided with the council.

The pupils’ arrival and departure was to be solely by means of a single minibus trip each day.

But inspector Justina Moss said she “could not be certain” that any traffic to and from the site would not affect highway safety on the minor road it gives onto.

Nor was she satisfied that proposed measures to improve visibility at the gate “would not result in the loss of a significant length of hedgerow, causing harm to ecology and the character and appearance of the site and surrounding area”.

She meanwhile described the cabin as “conspicuous when viewed from the public highway… exacerbated by its utilitarian appearance, which is not improved by the dark green colour”.

It therefore “has an unacceptable effect on the character and appearance” of the area, she concluded.


A further stumbling block had been the waste generated from the site’s toilet and its possible effect on the river Lugg special area of conservation (SAC) – an test which all new developments in the area must overcome.

The inspector said that while she had insufficient information to determine whether the toilet breached policy on this, “given that I am dismissing the appeal on other grounds, I have not considered this matter further”.

She acknowledged that dismissing the appeal “would cause disruption to the pupils’ education”, but concluded this would not outweigh the harm from the issues she identified.

“I am particularly mindful of the harm identified with regard to highway safety, which has a direct effect on those entering and leaving the site, including the pupils using the service,” she said.

Red Castle Training was approached for comment.