Council lists The Royal Hunt Pub as an Asset of Community Value
On 29th November 2017 local Pub Protection Officer (CAMRA Berkshire South-East) Bruce received a letter from the Bracknell Forest Borough Solicitor, confirming that his application (to Nominate the Royal Hunt as an Asset of Community Value) has been successful.
Local councilors are elated! This was indeed another successful battle, but the war was far from over.
- 1994 Carol became the licensee of The Royal Hunt Pub.
- 2014 Hawthorn Leisure purchased the Royal Hunt as part of a package of properties paying an average price of around £190,000.
- 2015 Although the tenant had offered to buy the property, Hawthorn Leisure closed the Pub.
- 2015 The Royal Hunt was registered as an asset of community value (ACV), which is a property of importance to a local community, which is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011.
- 2016 Hawthorn Leisure lost an appeal for change of use. Local residents expected it to be sold as a Pub or for Hawthorn Leisure to re-open it as a pub.
- Estate Agents marketed the Royal Hunt as “Development/Investment Opportunity Former Royal Hunt” and “Currently operated as an A1 retail shop”. This clearly was not being sold as a pub. It also was not being operated as a legitimate shop – as this use had been refused. There was no ‘For Sale’ signage on the property. Nobody could see any evidence of any attempt to sell the Royal Hunt as a Pub.
- Local Ward Councillors instigated a 'Save the Royal Hunt' petition at shops and outside Ascot Heath School. 352 signatures were collected.
- 2016 Hawthorn Leisure and Savills Estate Agents said that there was interest from investors once the ACV status was removed and that they expected it to be sold for residential use. A local businessman David explained that the price asked precluded use as a pub. However if they could not sell it as residential Development/Investment Opportunity, David would be interested in purchasing for use as a pub restaurant.
- Following an appeal in the High Courts from Hawthorn Leisure, The Royal Hunt lost its ACV (asset of community value) status.
- 2017 the Royal Hunt was sold to Patrick Ruddy Homes for over £800,000, more than 4 times what Hawthorn Leisure paid just 3 years earlier! This market price reflected their confidence that it can indeed be demolished and redeveloped for residential use.
- 2017 Patrick Ruddy Homes submitted a planning application proposing “Erection of a three storey building forming 9 no. flats with associated parking following demolition of existing buildings”.
- A change of use of drinking establishments is contained in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill that got Royal Assent in April 2017. This act of parliament now requires planning permission before a pub premises can be changed to another use. The Royal Hunt can be protected from change of use as long as the existing building remains standing, but not after it is demolished. This makes it even more important to save the last North Ascot pub from demolition.
- July 2017, Bracknell Forest Borough Planning received 227 online objections to the Patrick Ruddy Homes planning application 17/00672/FUL. Many letters were also sent to MP’s and the BFC Planning Department, objecting to this proposal.
- August 2017. A Winkfield Parish Council Meeting took place at Carnation Hall. The WPC Chair said that he was impressed to see so many non-council members of the public in attendance, there to support Bruce in his appeal to save the Royal Hunt Pub from demolition. The Chairman invited Bruce to speak for 10 minutes about this planning application. After Bruce’s speech, councillors agreed that they would send comments to BFC recommending that planning application number 17/00672/FUL should be refused. This was indeed a successful battle, but the war was far from over.
- September 2017 Savills Estate Agents submitted a Viability Study to BFC Planning Department suggesting that The Royal Hunt could never be a successful business.
- October 2017 Local businessman David joined forces with the owner chef and manager of a nearby successful pub restaurant. Together they submitted a counter-study which highlighted the erroneous assumptions and negative exaggerations in the Savills Viability Study. They showed that the Royal Hunt Pub could indeed be a successful business with the right kind of management.
- October 2017 Bruce submitted an application to Nominate the Royal Hunt as an Asset of Community Value.
- November 2017 Bruce received a letter from the Bracknell Forest Borough Solicitor, confirming that his application has been successful.
The Community Right to Bid was created in the Localism Act in September 2012 across the country. This means that communities can ‘stop-the clock’ on the sale of valuable local assets and amenities like post offices, village shops or community pubs, giving them time to put in a bid of their own and protect it for the wider benefits of the community. Now that the Royal Hunt is listed as an Asset of Community Value, the clock has been stopped. Ascot residents are asked to work with David, Ascot Ward Councillors and CAMRA BSE to help make the Royal Hunt into a successful community-run pub and restaurant.