An Ascot pub will be demolished despite a passionate plea from a neighbour for it to be retained.

The pub in question, The Royal Hunt in Ascot, has been spared from demolition twice since its doors were closed in February 2015.

However, developers Patrick Ruddy Homes have now successfully applied to knock it down and replace it with eight flats.

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The plan faced serious objections, with the key one being the permanent loss of the pub.

Yet a market viability report commissioned by Bracknell Forest Council concluded reopening the pub due to its location, size, lack of commercial kitchen, and requirement for considerable investment.

Vince Wall, a former regular at the pub, questioned the conclusions of the report. Mr Wall said: “I disagree with the notion this is an unmarketable, unviable property. This is in no way a definitive judgement. Before 2015 it had been open for decades, and it functioned perfectly well as a pub.”

“These claims the pub is unattractive and other pubs have more desirable characteristics, it was never a flashy gastropub, it was a local pub for local people, to hang out watch football, it was for local people. There’s not one single pub in North Ascot.”

Bracknell News: The old Royal Hunt pub in Ascot, which has been closed since February 2015. Credit: Google MapsThe old Royal Hunt pub in Ascot, which has been closed since February 2015. Credit: Google Maps

Councillor Michael Gbadebo (Conservative) asked Mr Wall how often he went to the pub. Mr Wall replied: “Right up to closing. When it did close it was very sharp, there was no announcement about it closing. People did go there and people did use it. It’s a community asset.”

Members of the committee also lamented the loss of the pub, which had been listed as an Asset of Community Value in 2017. However, it lost this designation in 2018.

Cllr Tony Virgo (CON) said: “I remember the history of this site extremely well. The community fought very hard for a community asset order, it was strongly appealed by the former landowner and the order withdrawn. A cafe or a sports bar would’ve actually served the community really well.

“But alas, the chance came and disappeared and I feel extremely sad on behalf of the community who’ve lived with this situation for many, many years.”

Sobering the discussion, Cllr Dale Birch (CON) contended that while it would be great to keep it as a pub, ‘many pubs are closing across the country’.

He said “The fact this has been determined as [economically] non viable is a fact etc. It’s hugely regrettable that people didn’t get the opportunity to make it a community asset but that’s a fact, it did not happen, that’s not a material consideration.”

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The pub will now be replaced with a 2.5 storey building which will contain eight one-bedroom flats.

Each flat will have an open plan kitchen, dining room, and lounge area. Some of the flats will have a utility and store room, and one of them will have a dressing area and a separate bathroom.

The building will be similar in design to the neighbouring Drummond Court.

There were also concerns raised over the number of parking spaces. The plan includes nine spaces, with one being reserved either for a visitor or those with a disabled badge.

Bracknell News: The plan for the building that will replace the Royal Hunt pub in Ascot. Credit: Davis Planning LtdThe plan for the building that will replace the Royal Hunt pub in Ascot. Credit: Davis Planning Ltd

Cllr Gbadebo asked whether the visitor or a person with a blue badge would have priority. In reply, council officer Andy Wells said the larger visitor space would be prioritised for the blue badge space if required.

In the end seven councillors voted for approval and four voted against it. Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard (CON) and Cllr Michael Skinner (CON) both abstained due to connection issues.

The market viability report for the pub was conducted by Fleurets Limited. Planning officer Sarah Harwood listed nearby pubs, which include The Royal Foresters, The Old Hatchet and The Rose and Crown.

The Royal Hunt is situated in North Ascot, which falls within Bracknell Forest.