PLANNING chiefs from Bristol have overruled the council’s decision to stop developers from building two homes at a popular Sandhurst pub.

The Rose and Crown has been the subject of a lengthy planning battle between owners Punch Taverns, Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) and concerned residents.

READ MORE: Residents unsure of pub future

Now the house building will go ahead after inspectors based in Bristol said the plans were all in order, despite locals’ fears this could mean the end of the pub.

Adrian Russell, Chairman of the 200-strong Rose and Crown Support Group, told the News: “It just seems to be utter madness.

“I’m concerned about noise at the front of the pub. Because these houses will be built on the beer garden, people will be pushed to the front which will lead to conflict with neighbours.

“The whole thing is just mental – there are so many arguments against this.”

Responding to the original planning applications, many residents were concerned the plans could be a “trojan horse” for the eventual closure of the popular establishment.

Mr Russell continued: “If it doesn’t work out, the owners can say it’s not viable.

“It represents a very big danger for the pub.”

BFC originally threw out proposals to cut the pub’s beer garden in half to make way for two three-bedroom homes in November 2018 over concerns about pedestrian safety.

READ MORE: Rose and Crown plans refused

Punch Taverns laid out its case to the Planning Inspectorate shortly after, despite then submitting new designs to BFC for consideration in December 2018, which were again refused in June 2019 over fears about access for wheelchair users.

But the Inspectorate decided to overrule the council’s first refusal after finding the new layout of the site would not make pedestrians crossing the car park less safe and did not contradict BFC planning rules.

The examiner also considered access for wheelchair users in their report, and suggested the development would be “appropriately accessible to all”.

Concerns raised about the new homes being in the countryside were also dismissed, as were worries about the reduced size of the beer garden and the future of the pub.

Andy Spencer, Managing Director at Punch Taverns, said: “The Rose and Crown is a great pub and remains an important part of our estate.

“We have recruited a fantastic new Publican who hopes to have the pub back open, welcoming customers new and old to the pub next week.

“We are also planning a significant investment at the pub, which we hope to complete before Christmas. We look forward to sharing more information on our plans with the community soon’’

Punch had also asked the council to pay costs because the owners were forced to appeal the authority’s decision.

However, the Inspectorate determined the council had not caused Punch unnecessary expense or demonstrated ‘unreasonable behaviour’, and ruled BFC should not pay costs.

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Bracknell Forest Council declined to comment.