COUNCIL bosses are set to double down plans to build two new homes at the site of Sandhurst’s oldest pub after proposals were chucked out in April.

The Rose and Crown pub could lose half of its beer garden to make way for the three-bedroom dwellings.

Residents have long feared the proposals will lead to the eventual closure of the pub despite applicants’ assurances it will not.

Read what happened last time councillors judged the plans

A number of pub-goers were present at a planning application meeting in April which saw councillors delay a decision on the plans as they were ‘not happy they had all the information’.

This came after a concerned resident raised fears about the width of a new footpath leading to the homes.

The footpath, which is only one metre wide at its narrowest point, was deemed to be of “adequate width” for wheelchair users to pass through but this could not be supported by council officers at the planning committee meeting after residents questioned the judgement.

Now planning officers have doubled down on the suitability of the footpath in a new planning report, claiming: “it would be unreasonable to refuse the application on the basis of not providing suitable access for pedestrians, including those with disabilities.”

Officers have therefore recommended the application for approval despite acknowledging a Bracknell Forest Council guideline from 2006 which states “footways and footpaths should ideally be 2000mm (2 metres) wide; this allows two wheelchair users to pass… with 1000mm (1m) being the absolute minimum unobstructed width”.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) guidance also recommends two metres being the ideal width with the “absolute minimum” width being one metre.

Further instruction from the DfT suggests a passing point should be provided to allow two wheelchair users to pass each other, and one is proposed with the application, but the officer’s report noted these guidelines are not laws.

Speaking to the News after the planning committee meeting in April, Adrian Russell, chairman of the 150-strong Rose and Crown community support group, claimed electric wheelchair users need 2.5 metres to turn around.

He said: “What they’re saying is disabled people can’t buy this house. People forget things. They can’t turn around – what they would have to do is reverse 45 meters all the way back – how embarrassing is that?”

Read also: 53 homes set to be built in Binfield as councillors look to give green light to plans

More than 80 objections have been received by BFC in response to the planning application.

Many residents are worried the application signals the beginning of the end for the pub, with one resident writing: “This appears to be a money grabbing exercise on the part of the owners with no respect for the local area, and will likely lead to the full closure of Sandhurst’s oldest pub in the near future.”

Under the proposal’s design guide, the beer garden is deemed “surplus to operational requirements” and the applicant is “seeking to make more efficient use of the underutilised land”.

The proposals are in conflict with three separate BFC planning policies about rules relating to building homes in the countryside.

Proposals show the two new homes would be built on land outside an area designated for development but officers believe “no significant harm would result to the intrinsic beauty of the countryside.”

Despite this, councillors are set to approve the plans when they meet on Monday, June 3.