RESIDENTS are eagerly awaiting the outcome of an appeal to build two homes at the site of a much-loved Sandhurst pub.

The Rose and Crown has been the subject of a lengthy battle between developers and Bracknell Forest Council (BFC), with the latter twice refusing plans to take up half of the beer garden with the new three-bedroom homes.

Since proposals were validated last year objectors have claimed the application could be a “trojan horse”, “where the ultimate goal on the part of the owners is the pub’s closure” and that approving the plans would be a “death warrant” for the popular establishment.

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BFC planning bosses threw out the applications after twice deciding the new development would not provide safe access for pedestrians through the car park of the pub.

But pub owner Punch Taverns has asked the government’s Planning Inspectorate to overturn the council’s first refusal, which came in November 2018, and was followed by a second dismissal in June 2019.

Punch is appealing the refusal based on BFC’s planning officer’s recommendations to approve the plans – advice which was dismissed by councillors at both planning meetings.

The News understands a decision on the appeal will be made by Thursday, August 1.

A second reason for refusal has been withdrawn by BFC after developers and the council came to an agreement on the fee the applicants should pay in order to mitigate the impact of building on a specially protected area.

Despite this agreement, Punch Taverns is demanding the council pays costs back to them because it was forced to make an appeal.

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The applicants claim the authority should pay up because it ‘prevented development which should be permitted’, because it ‘failed to produce evidence to substantiate the reasons for refusal’ and because the council made ‘vague, generalised and inaccurate suggestions about the proposal’s impact’.

However, BFC dismissed claims its reasons for refusal were ‘vague’ or ‘generalised’ and doubled down on its concerns about the safety of pedestrians crossing the car park, stating it did not ‘waste’ the applicants time or finances.

Residents have responded to the appeal and chairman of the 200-strong Rose and Crown Support Group Adrian Russell led the charge against the plans.

In comments to the Planning Inspectorate, Mr Russell suggested amendments made to the plans for the second application meant Punch had accepted the design faults of the original proposal and consequently acknowledged the ‘discrimination’ wheelchair users faced when trying to pass through site.

His representation also highlighted the proposal’s inconsistencies with council planning policies, with one resident claiming to have identified 20 violations of local and national guidelines.

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Andy Spencer, Punch Managing Director, said: ‘’We are appealing the decision made regarding our planning application to build two new homes on the land at the Rose and Crown pub.

“The application had been recommended for approval by the Council’s planning department. The Rose and Crown remains an important part of our estate and we hope to have the pub back open, welcoming customers new and old as soon as possible.’’

Bracknell Forest Council declined to comment.