COUNCIL officials have been slammed by residents for their "lack of support" after approving 14 pub closures in the past nine years.

Campaigners in Bracknell and Ascot are trying to get Bracknell Forest Council to protect and support its pubs as residents fear more of its 'community hubs' could be converted into flats if they are granted planning permission.

The Royal Hunt Pub Community Group have created a petition with residents pledging to support the pub from being knocked down by developers.

Currently, the group has 109 members and £233,540 has already been pledged which could be made available to fund as a freehold purchase.

If enough members support the The Royal Hunt pub in Ascot, then it could reopen and continue to thrive as a pub in the 'heart of the local community'.

Since 2010, 14 licenced premises within BFC have been closed due to a lack of support for community assets.

The Blue Lion in Bracknell, Iron Duke in Crowthorne, Dukes Head in Sandhurst and Gold Cup in North Ascot are amongst the pubs that have closed down.

Similarly, The Royal Oak in Ascot was granted permission to be converted into flats but was overturned after eight villagers bought the site as a freehold in 2017 but residents still want the BFC to support pubs from developers.

Supporters of the pub are using the Asset of Community Value (ACV) legislation, which means a property is of importance to a local community and is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011.

However, other pubs are currently at risk of being developed as houses and flats and residents are blaming the council and planning inspectorates for not doing enough to protect them.

Andrew Hunter, director, place, planning and regeneration at BFC, said: “We seek to support the ongoing viability of public houses in Bracknell Forest, where it is possible to do so.

“As commercial entities the owners of public houses will often put forward planning applications for alternative, more viable uses on these sites. Where this the case we carefully determine these applications paying due regard to the use of the site and the loss of that facility.”