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Council pushes for illegally demolished Lancashire pub to be rebuilt

Almost three years after The Punch Bowl Inn in Hurst Green was demolished, the leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council has said that he is “determined” to see the pub rebuilt “as soon as possible”.

The building, which dates back to the 18th century, had stood derelict since 2012 and was acquired in 2015 by Donelan Trading Ltd. In 2018, the company was granted permission to demolish part of the Grade II-listed structure in order to convert it into holiday accommodation, however, in June 2021 the whole building was demolished by contractor Percliff Ltd. Donelan Trading Ltd’s defence of the demolition was reportedly that it “grew tired” of waiting for planning permission from the council.

Last year, Donelan Trading Ltd was ordered by a court to rebuild the pub as it was, at an estimated cost of £1.5 million. Five people at Donelan Trading Ltd were also issued with fines, totalling £70,000, for the “unlawful demolition of a listed building”.

The leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council is now pushing to see the historic boozer rebuilt. Councillor Stephen Atkinson (Conservative) noted that because the building was listed, there is a need to have it “put back as it was”.

“Listed building owners enjoy many privileges including not paying business rates on empty properties,” Atkinson was reported to have said by BBC News. “They have an obligation to maintain that property and they know what the property was when they bought it…The council are determined to get this building back, as soon as possible, to the correct standard.”

Atkinson was prompted to comment as the deadline for the reconstruction to begin was reached at midnight on Sunday (3 March), and yet there is no sign of any work having taken place.

“They have had ample time to restore or start restoring the building and we have been in constant contact with their representatives, and offered them every assistance within our remit, but to no avail,” Atkinson explained. He also shared that “all options” concerning the case were “on the table, including legal action”.

This development comes just a week after the owners of The Crooked House in Staffordshire were issued with an enforcement notice by South Staffordshire Council that means that they will have to rebuild the wonky house.

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