A local campaign group that saved a much-loved Sandhurst pub from being turned into flats has now also recovered the council’s solicitor fees from the court battle.

The Rose and Crown Pub Community Group (RCPCG) successfully appealed against a previous judge’s ruling to ensure The Rose and Crown Pub was preserved as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) earlier this year. 

The group has now been successful in clawing back the £4,000 solicitor fees paid to the pub owners, Punch Partnerships Ltd (PPL), by Bracknell Forest Borough Council (BFBC). 

RCPCG committee member Valerie Goodwin Higson described the repayment of the legal costs as “the cherry on top”. 

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“Now that this final reimbursement has been officially directed […], I’ll contact BFBC legal department and seek confirmation that ‘The Rose and Crown public house Sandhurst’ is once again placed on the register of Asset of Community Value,” she added. 

Executive Director for Delivery, Kevin Gibbs,  confirmed that the pub “is now on the asset of community value register (ACV)”, and was placed on the ACV “as “soon as the most recent tribunal […] made its decision”.

The RCPCG had originally applied for the premises to be considered an ACV in January 2019 and it was listed as such by Bracknell Forest Council in February 2019, giving the pub protected status. 

However, PPL successfully appealed the application, resulting in the council incurring the solicitor fee costs, so RCPCG took the case to a first-tier tribunal in January 2020.   

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PPL had already built two houses on the site after a successful planning application, leaving the community fearful that the pub itself could be turned into flats. 

At the hearing, the judge claimed they couldn’t find evidence that RCPCG was “a properly constituted body with a common purpose” and the RCPCG ultimately lost the appeal.  

RCPCG escalated the case to the upper-tier tribunal arguing that the first ruling was “wrong in law.”   

“We had 175 people who all had the same goal of protecting the pub. We were unanimous in our pursuit of the pub being an ACV,” Russell argued. 

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The upper-tier tribunal judge ruled in favour of RCPCG. In the decision, Judge Jones stated: ” The decision of the First-tier Tribunal was made in error of law.    

I confirm the decision of [Bracknell Forest Council] to include the Pub in the list of assets of community value.”   

The judge ordered that BFBC could retrieve the £4,000 in solicitor fees that they had paid to PML, which RCPCG opted to pursue.

The group’s chairman, Adrian Russell, said: “So, the RCPG overturned the refusal to appeal, we overturned the appeal that reversed the ACV award and now we’ve overturned the awarding of costs to PML saving BFC £4,000.  

“We’re pretty happy with that result!” 

The council claims it “requested a return” of the fees when it was notified of the appeal to overturn the decision of the original tribunal.

“The council has now recovered the £4,000 it had to pay in legal costs,” Mr Gibbs added.