COUNCIL planners have ordered developers to reinstate the historic frontages of two buildings in market town which were knocked down without permission.

The facades of a former newspaper office and shop on King Street in Clitheroe's Conservation Area were supposes to have been retained as part of a project to create two larger retail premises and several flats.

But last month the frontages were unexpectedly knocked down after a mains electricity cable was severed by contractors.

One building is the former office of the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times vacated in October 2014 and the second The Chocolate Box which closed last year after 91 years in business.

Ribble Valley Borough Council Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Allan Knox who represents Clitheroe's Primrose ward immediately demanded that the facades be reinstated as part of any redevelopment.

His call as echoed by Steve Burke, chairman of the town's Civic Society.

Both facades are understood to have been preserved and are being kept in store.

Now Nicola Hopkins, Ribble Valley Council’s director of economic development and planning, has ordered owner of the two buildings which originally date from the 1870s to submit a new planning application including a like-for-like replacement of the frontages.

She said: “The building at 3 King Street had planning permission for conversion to seven apartments.

“While contractors were clearing the site, a mains electricity cable was severed.

"The owners contacted the council, Electricity North West and their structural engineer immediately.

“Our building control team conducted a site visit straight away and concluded that the only course of action from a health and safety perspective was to demolish the building under the emergency provisions of the Building Act 1984 to enable Electricity North West to deal with the live cable.

“We take the protection of the built environment seriously and are conducting a rigorous investigation into the matter, and will take the necessary enforcement action.”

Judith Douglas, Mr Stansfield's planning agent, said: "It is correct that the council have ordered the reinstatement of the frontages and asked for us to submit a new planning application in that respect. We have no further comment."

Cllr Knox said: "It is good news the owner has been told to reinstate the frontages but will the owners do it and do it properly properly? I and Ribble Valley Council will be watching.

"The demolition was a most unfortunate incident."