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Royal Hunt Pub History

Members of Facebook Group 'Historical Sunninghill, Sunningdale, Ascot and Surrounding areas' have helped with information in this map of 5 pubs in North Ascot. Member Will Readings posted "I remember sitting on the verandah (Nursery Inn) with a lemonade and chips in 1954. It closed in the 60's. It was a Symonds Brewery Pub same as the Royal Hunt. Bob and Karen Clarke lived next door to the Nursery Inn." Another member Steve Burch posted "The Royal Hunt should be a listed building. Instead it is being allowed to decay and rot, so developers can make more money."

When Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, the Royal Hunt Pub was already a popular drinking establishment for royal huntsmen. Other pubs emerged later from shops, bakers and blacksmiths. The Royal Hunt Pub is the first and last pub in North Ascot.

In the 1950's first year schoolchildren went to school in the small building on the corner of King Edwards Road, by the Royal Hunt Pub. Pupils then moved across the road to the hall behind the old Baptist Church, then on to the school at Fernbank Road.

In the 1950's children used to go the race course and collect bottles, then take the empty bottles to The Nursery Inn (pictured above) to get pocket money. They used to purchase a very large packet of broken crisps for one old penny.

Local resident Carole Tuckett's husband's family ran The Royal Hunt Pub from 1937 to the early 70's. Grandad Shepherd ran the pub in the early 1900's. Nellie and Jock took over and remained the publicans until Nellie died. Then George and Pearl ran the pub.

Fernbank Road used to contain 3 pubs. The Queens Stag and Hounds was a pub in Fernbank Road (now Admiral Kepple Court). Cranbourne Tower was another pub that did not survive the turn of the century. In more recent years The Gold Cup was closed. The only pub remaining in North Ascot is The Royal Hunt.

In 1994 Carol became the licensee of The Royal Hunt Pub.

In 2014 Hawthorn Leisure purchased the Royal Hunt Pub as part of a package of properties paying an average price of around £190,000.

In 2015 Although the tenant had offered to buy the property, Hawthorn Leisure closed the Pub.

On 18th May 2015 The Royal Hunt Pub was nominated (on behalf of CAMRA) as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Winkfield Parish Council. It was accepted on 4th June 2015. An ACV is a property of importance to a local community, which is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011.

June 2015 The Royal Hunt Pub was also nominated as an ACV by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), but this nomination was filed by BFC who wrote to CAMRA acknowledging them as an interested party.

In 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.

Savills 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.

In 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 white knight investor explained that the price asked precluded use as a pub. However if they could not sell it as residential Development/Investment Opportunity, he would be interested in purchasing for use as a pub restaurant. The white knight investor also consulted Bracknell Forest Legal Department and was fobbed off with unhelpful remarks.

In June 2016 Hawthorne Leisure challenged the ACV, but they lost their appeal. The ACV was upheld. High Court Judge Peter Lane concluded I find that the evidence shows on balance that it is realistic to think that there is a time in the next five years when the Royal Hunt could resume its role as a community pub.

In July 2016 CAMRA were not informed when Hawthorne Leisure notified BFC that they wish to dispose of the Royal Hunt Pub in July 2016. The disposal notice should have triggered a 6-week moratorium in which a community interest group has the opportunity to express interest in making a bid to purchase the pub. BFC failed to inform CAMRA, so CAMRA were denied the opportunity to identify a community interest group that would express interest. Click here to see the disposal notice.

In 2nd August 2016 The BFC Solicitor had a meeting with Winkfield Parish Council. CAMRA were not invited. On 15th August 2016 Winkfield Parish Council wrote to the BFC Solicitor confirming that Winkfield Parish Council did not wish to pursue the matter further. Although BFC had received a nomination from CAMRA (June 2015) and the borough solicitor had acknowledged CAMRA as an interested party, CAMRA were not informed.

Bracknell Forest Legal Department were well aware of the white knight investor's interest in purchasing the pub. Because the white knight investor and CAMRA were denied the opportunity to respond to the disposal notice and identify a community group that would express interest, housing developers got the mistaken impression that there was no interest from the local community. This had the predictable effect on the market value of a pub which had been purchased for approximately £190,000.

In 2017 the Royal Hunt was sold to Patrick Ruddy Homes for over £800,000, more than 4 times what Hawthorn Leisure paid less than 3 years earlier! This demonstrated their confidence that it can be demolished and redeveloped for residential use.

In 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.

In July 2017, Bracknell Forest Borough Planning received 230 online objections to planning application 17/00672/FUL. Many letters were also sent to MPs and the BFC Planning Department, objecting to this demolition proposal.

In August 2017. A Winkfield Parish Council Meeting took place at Carnation Hall. The WPC Chair said that he was impressed to see so many 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 the speech, councillors agreed that they would recommend to BFC that planning application number 17/00672/FUL should be refused.

September 2017 Patrick Ruddy Homes and Savills submitted a Viability Study to BFC Planning Department, claiming that The Royal Hunt could never be a successful business.

October 2017 the white knight investor 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 Savills's report. They showed how 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.

On 29th November 2017 local resident 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.

Also in November, Patrick Ruddy Homes hired the services of DAC Beachcroft LLP who submitted a formal objection to the ACV Registration. BFC failed to inform the ACV nominator, who has never been permitted to view the report from DAC Beachcroft LLP.

BFC Planning told Ascot Ward Councillors that they are awaiting another Viability Study and that, in January 2018 they will announce their decision to approve or refuse planning application 17/00672/FUL. That announcement was delayed until Monday 26th March 2018.

January 2018 This website was launched, with an online membership database, join form, Facebook Page and Twitter.

Total Pledged: £248,330.00
Total Members: 137

On Wednesday 21st March 2018: Following a challenge from pub owner Patrick Ruddy Homes, the Royal Hunt Pub was removed from the BFC ACV (Asset of Community Value) Register. Click here to see why.

On Monday 26th March: The Patrick Ruddy Homes planning application 17/00672/FUL (to demolish the pub) was REFUSED. Click here to see why.

On Thursday 24th May: Patrick Ruddy Homes submitted a new planning application 18/00552/FUL to demolish the pub.

On Wednesday 6th June: RHPCG submitted a new application to nominate the Royal Hunt Pub as an Asset of Community Value.

On 20th July 2018 the June ACV Nomination was rejected. Click here to see the letter dated 20 July 2018 from Bracknell Forest Assistant Director of Property. The letter directly contradicts Peter Lane's judgement.

On Thursday 13th December 2018 the second planning application 18/00552/FUL to demolish the pub (submitted Thursday 24th May) was refused.

RHPCG responded in December 2018 with a new ACV Nomination, strengthened by a wealth of evidence, including the above-described judgement made in June 2016 by Judge Peter Lane.

The ACV Nomination was refused in February 2019. The letter (18th February 2019) from the BFC Solicitor disrespected the High Court judgement and concluded:
In terms of new evidence, you have included reference to the owners unsuccessful planning application for the erecting of flats at the site in December 2018. I do not think that this makes the use of the site as a Public House in the next five years more realistic.

I therefore find that having considered all the evidence before me the requirement in S88(2)(b) is not satisfied and that the premises should not be included in the Authority's list of Assets of the Community Value.

The Royal Hunt Pub Community Group are delighted that the White Knight potential purchaser again confirmed in 2019 that his position re the Royal hunt is unchanged. Under the right conditions, he is still willing to purchase the Royal Hunt and put the money in to restore it to a viable pub and restaurant. He would be doing this for the community and because he thinks it is important that amenities such as pubs and restaurants are maintained, particularly as housing increases in North Ascot.

After discussions between the North Ascot Residents Association, the Royal Hunt Pub Community Group, the White Knight investor, CAMRA and Ascot Ward Councillors, a letter was sent to the BFC Solicitor on Saturday 2nd March 2019. Click here for details.

Patrick Ruddy Homes have submitted 3 Planning Applications to demolish The Royal Hunt Pub.

  • 17/00672/FUL in July 2017. Winkfield Parish Council recommended to BFC refusal of that planning application. BFC refused that planning application in March 2018.
  • 18/00552/FUL in May 2018. Winkfield Parish Council recommended to BFC refusal of that planning application. That was refused by BFC in December 2018. The owners appealed but the appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in August 2019.
  • 20/00001/FUL This planning application was received in January 2020 and is pending consideration. Winkfield Parish Council have recommended to BFC refusal of the latest planning application to demolish the pub.
Speech at Carnation Hall 7.30pm 4th February 2020

Winkfield Parish Council have agreed to recommend to BFC refusal of the latest planning application to demolish the pub.

The following extract is from Winkfield Parish's formal LOCAL COUNCIL OBSERVATIONS sent to Bracknell Forest.
WPC notes the exceptionally high level of local support for the preservation of this local amenity, the loss of which WPC does not wish to see. WPC would take this opportunity to remind Bracknell Forest of its core strategies (particularly CS21, CS23 and CS24) and the elements of sympathetic development to which they allude. WPC does not feel that this proposal is supported by the Core Strategies.

The following extract from Bruce's speech (August 2017) explains CS21, CS23 and CS24.
Bracknell Forest Borough Core Strategy sets out a planning framework for guiding the location and level of development in the Borough up to 2026. The Core Strategy is not there to make developers rich. The Core Strategy exists to ensure that the community can continue to enjoy living in this area up to and beyond 2026. The Core Strategy is supposed be used to determine applications for planning permission, but some its core strategies do seem to have been ignored, for example CS21, CS23 and CS24.
  • CS21 states "Planning applications involving the loss by redevelopment or change of use of retail units that perform an important community role will only be allowed if they do not conflict with other elements of this strategy". Before the Gold Cup and Cranbourne Tower were demolished, they performed an important community role. If The Royal Hunt gets re-opened as a pub, it can also perform a community role, which is even more important because it is the only pub remaining in the 2-and-a-half-mile route along London Rd, Fernbank Rd, New Rd and Forest Rd.
  • CS23 states "The Council will use its planning and transport powers to: i. reduce the need to travel; and ii. increase the safety of travel". Losing the public house has the exact opposite effect. It increases the need to travel and more importantly increases the risk of accidents due to extended travel once alcohol has been consumed.
  • CS24 states "Development will be permitted where mitigation against the transport impacts, which may arise from that development or cumulatively with other proposals, is provided. This shall be achieved through the submission of a transport assessment or transport statement, and where appropriate the provision of new and the improvement of existing pedestrian and cycle routes." The safety of schoolchildren and parents is already adversely affected by increased road traffic due to the piecemeal development of North Ascot. This cumulative overdevelopment is unacceptably increasing the pressure on local education facilities and transport infrastructure. Ascot Heath School previously publicly stated that they were already fully subscribed. The local transport infrastructure is sadly lacking in separate scooter/cycle paths.

The Royal Hunt Pub Community Group will be continuing their fight to save this valuable community asset.