A PUB in rural Herefordshire is facing resistance from the local community as it looks to carry out a major refurbishment.

The Castlefields in Clifford, near Hay-on-Wye, told Herefordshire Council that it wanted to improve its existing facilities and its sustainability, saying new jobs should be created when work is complete.

Applying for planning permission, applicants Ian and Carol Birch said the work would include improved Covid-19 resilience, restaurant, tourist accommodation and function facility, as well as relocating the managers' accommodation so there could be more bed and breakfast rooms.

The car park at the pub, in the Golden Valley, would be expanded so there would be space for 59 cars, up from 25.

But three local residents have objected to plans, compared to just one voicing their support.

Christopher Bates, who runs the Smithy B&B nearby, said he had previously supported the Castlefield as a local pub, but he had concerns over the latest development.

He was worried that the proposals would change the dynamic of it being a local pub to a function facility, the traffic that such events would bring the narrow B4352, and an increase in light pollution.


"The parish plan residents report supported keeping the 'dark skies' continually having high percentage voting not to have street lights and reducing light pollution," he said in his objection to planners.

"This in the nature of the increase in buildings, car park and residential accommodation would be detrimental to the local community.

"The Castlefields has close neighbors and a nearing [sic] small hamlet Middlewood, which would be directly affected by the increase noise daytime and evenings."

Another local, Andrew Craven, objected on the basis of noise and light pollution the development could cause, meaning the pub could be an "unwelcome beacon in the wider scattered community".

His other concerns included an increase in traffic.

David Venables also objected, saying the pub was near a "treacherous bend" in the road.

He had concerns over noise and light pollution's impact on the natural habitat, saying he felt very strongly about a negative impact on the rural environment and the integrity of the landscape.


"The number of proposed properties is worrying and I am concerned that if these are given permission it will start a precedent for other inappropriate developments in the rural location," he said.

"A local pub, which is accessible for the community, is exactly what the Castlefield should be, but it will no longer serve this purpose if it is booked routinely for weddings or parties throughout the year."

Clifford Parish Council did not support or object to plans, but Ben James, of Dorstone praised the pub's owners.

He said Ian and Carol Birch had shown huge commitments to the property, business and local community and had shown their incredible hard work over the past decade.

"At a time where the hospitality sector is under real threat, I feel Mr and Mrs Birch should be applauded for plans to improve and enhance their property and business," he said, adding jobs would benefit the local community.

The application said the work would see the total floorspace rise from 412 square metres to 878, and two new full-time roles and one new part-time role could also be created.

There would also be four lodges in the grounds of the pub for tourists, as well as the new managers' home with two bedrooms.

A new extension housing a function room would also be built, if plans are given the go-ahead, as well as a bridal dressing room.

On its website, the 16th-century former coach house said it has already undergone a high-quality refurbishment prior to these plans.

The independent free house also said it is a family-run business, serving great British pub classics and also has a popular carvery. It also offers an "excellent" selection of beers, real ales, wines and spirits.

Herefordshire Council's planners are yet to consider the plans.