Developers ordered to rebuild sandstone pub they demolished

Guardian website

The story on the Guardian newspaper website.

A court has ordered that a Grade II Listed pub in Lancashire demolished without permission must be rebuilt with as much material reclaimed from the rubble as possible, reports the Guardian newspaper. 

The Punch Bowl Inn at Hurst Green is said to have been haunted by the ghosts of highwaymen Dick Turpin and Ned King.

An entry on Wikipedia says the inn was originally two 18th century cottages with an eastern portion added in the 19th century and a western portion that was originally a barn.

The walls of the two-storey 18th-century portion were of sandstone laid in watershot pattern with courses angled slightly outwards to shed water. The roof was slate. There were two plain stone door surrounds, one of which was blocked up and the windows also had plain stone surrounds.

The original building was joined to the 19th-century eastern addition by a two-storey single bay structure which appeared to be of similar construction to the 18th-century part. The 19th-century addition was made of larger sandstone blocks and had a moulded stone cornice. It again had windows with plain stone surrounds.

Last year, a trial at Burnley magistrates court found five people guilty of the illegal demolition of the 300-year-old pub in June 2021.

Now a judge has ordered that the pub must be rebuilt at a cost developers have put at £1.5million, and Andrew Donelan, Nicola Donelan, Rebecca Donelan, David Cotterell and Brian Ingleby are required to pay a combined £70,000 in fines and court costs.

During the court case last year the court heard how there had been no need to demolish the building, although the defence claimed the defendants were concerned the pub, which had been closed since 2012, could collapse and fall into the road.

They said they had spoken to the council, Historic England and experts about what to do but “nobody was helping”.

In the years before the demolition, emergency services had been called a number of times when fires were started inside the building.

District Judge Alex Boyd said: “The purpose of these requirements is to protect the building for current and future generations to enjoy.” The ruling to rebuild the pub would act as a deterrent to others considering illegal demolitions, said the Judge.

This is not the first time a pub demolished without planning permission has had to be rebuilt.

Carlton Tavern in London was re-built and re-opened six years after being demolished thanks to 5,300 locals, including several councillors, mobilising to persuade Westminster council to take action against the demolition.

A planning inquiry the year after the council had told the owners to rebuild the pub confirmed the decision, ruling that it should be rebuilt “in facsimile”, from the red bricks to the distinctive tiled pub name.

Polly Robertson, a leading member of the Rebuild the Carlton Tavern campaign, said once the Carlton had been rebuilt “to be fair… they have done amazing work. It looks fantastic.”

The pub re-opened on 12 April 2021, the day that Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in England to let pubs and restaurants serve drinks and meals outdoors.

It had last served customers before that in April 2015, when it closed after being denied planning permission for conversion into 10 flats. Two days before it was due to be Listed Grade-II, the owners ordered its demolition.

The Guardian newspaper spoke to James Watson when the pub re-opened. He is a pub protection adviser for the Campaign for Pubs who advised the Carlton campaigners. He told the newspaper: “I never imagined that I would see a planning inspector order a developer to put back what he’d just knocked down, to look exactly as it was. I thought the developer would get a slap on the wrist, a £6,000 fine. But I was flabbergasted. And it has set an incredibly useful precedent: other planning inspectors will remember it – and so will developers.”