Developers are looking to turn a Farnborough pub into flats.
Inland Homes is interested in redeveloping the Ham & Blackbird pub in Farnborough Road and has been accused of attempting to ‘bypass the council’s planning system’ by having trees trimmed on the site.
Proposals are for a mixed-use of the site, including 62 new apartments, car parking, a commercial space for a café or bar and an art centre or community space.
The developer has cut parts of a number of trees, which councillors believe is putting pedestrians and motorists at risk.
Councillor Gareth Lyon, representing the Empress Ward for Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “There are a lot of large trees on the site and the council could object to any plans because of them.
“In an attempt to bypass the council’s planning application the trees have been killed so they cannot be used as grounds for refusing an application.”
The council’s planning policy states that the authority will not permit developments which would adversely affect any existing trees that are worthy of retention, particularly those subject to tree preservation orders.
Cllr Lyon said: “The trees have been weakened quite substantially so large trees have now been left standing and are swaying back and forth and could fall at any point.
“They are highly unstable and are located in one of the busiest roundabouts in Farnborough.”
But a spokesperson for Inland Homes said: “As part of our proposals to redevelop the site for much-needed new homes preparatory works have been undertaken to legally remove some trees.
“We will be planting new trees, alongside extensive landscaping proposals, as part of the new development.”
Cllr Lyon said several residents had made representations to the council about the trees being cut and asked that action be taken to protect people from the threat from the unstable trees.
The pub was formerly owned by Whitbread – operators of Premier Inn, Costa, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Table Table brands – however Siya Properties, owners of The Falcon Hotel in Farnborough, took over ownership in 2010.
The Ham & Blackbird is near the former Tumbledown Dick pub, which is now being redeveloped into a McDonald’s restaurant after planning permission was granted last October.
Paul Cowper, chairman of the Surrey & Hants Borders branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “We are very disappointed to hear about this.
“The Ham & Blackbird is another old and well established pub in Farnborough that has been doing well.
“It’s still running and we certainly would not like to see it close down.
“If it closes down that means yet again there’s going to be more job losses in the area and just by building the apartments there it’s going to cause traffic problems.
“We would totally oppose the redevelopment.”
Inland Homes will be holding a public exhibition on its plans on Saturday February 22, between 11.30am and 4pm, at St Peter’s Church Parish Hall, in Church Avenue.