‘Essential’ work at a much-missed country pub in Warfield has been blocked on the grounds that it would be harmful to the green belt.

Owners of the New Leathern Bottle wanted permission to build 15 solar panels in the garden behind the building on Maidenhead Road. This was part of a plan by the Wellington Pub Company to renovate the listed building and convert it into a home.

Designs submitted to Bracknell Forest Council said the solar panels would provide the conversion with ‘an essential improvement to the energy performance of the property.’

But Bracknell Forest Council planning officers refused planning permission for the solar panels on Friday, January 5.

Their refusal letter to the company said this was because they believed the development would be harmful to the greenbelt. And it said the production of green energy would not outweigh the harm to the countryside.

READ MORE: New Leathern Bottle in Warfield moves closer to refurbishment

The letter said: “The proposed development would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt, which is by definition, harmful to the Green Belt.

“No very special circumstances have been proposed and the weight given to the production of renewable energy was not sufficient to clearly outweigh the harm caused by reason of inappropriateness.”

The refusal comes after a wrangle between Wellington Pub Company and Bracknell Forest Council over whether the conversion should have been allowed at all.

The New Leathern Bottle has been closed since September 2020. The Wellington Pub Company first applied for permission to change the use of the building from a public house to a four bedroom dwelling in 2021.

Bracknell Forest Council’s planning department at first refused permission, arguing that it would mean the loss of a community facility. But the government’s planning inspectorate overruled the council, agreeing that it was no longer viable to keep the building running as a pub.

The inspector Lewis Condé ruled: “The site is in a location with a small local population and no significant local attractions to draw potential customers.

“There is no robust evidence before me to demonstrate that the use of the building as a public house, or other community facility remains viable.”

Since then, permission has also been granted to replace windows and doors and renovate the inside of the listed building.

And other applications for permission to relay the roof tiles, and for landscaping work on the grounds of the building, are still under consideration.

The Wellington Pub Company has been contacted for comment.