The roof of a much-missed country pub can now be refurbished after planning permission was granted by Bracknell Forest Council. But questions remain about the building’s future after other ‘essential’ works were refused.

The New Leathern Bottle on Maidenhead Road in Warfield has been closed since September 2020.

The building’s owner The Wellington Pub Company has submitted several applications for permission to carry out different renovation works, as part of a plan to convert the building into a four bedroom home.

Each part of the work needs approval as the pub is a listed building. Plans to refurbish the roof were most recently approved by the council on 1 February.

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However, separate plans to install 15 solar panels in the rear garden – which designs submitted to the council said were ‘essential’ – were refused in January.

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

But council planning officers said the development would be harmful to the greenbelt. They said the production of green energy would not outweigh the harm to the countryside.

Neither the Wellington Pub Company nor the designers Kruszelnicki Leetch Architects have responded to questions about how this affects the renovation plans.

The refusal follows a previous wrangle between the pub owners and Bracknell Forest Council over whether the pub should be allowed to be converted into a home.

The Wellington Pub Company first applied for permission to change the use of the building from a pub to a four bedroom home 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.

The plans to renovate the roof involve relaying the existing clay tiles over a new roofing felt and a waterproof covering. Existing tiles that are broken or get damaged would be replaced by new clay tiles, in areas that are hidden from the main frontages.