FIVE people charged in connection with the alleged unlawful demolition of a Grade II listed former pub are set to go on trial at Burnley Magistrates' Court in August.

The former Punch Bowl Inn in Longridge Road, Hurst Green, was razed to the ground last June, an act which Ribble Valley Council, who brought the case to court, says was unlawful.

At a previous hearing held at Blackburn Magistrates' Court the five accused, Andrew Donelan, 60, Nicola Donelan, 58, and Rebecca Donelan, 28, all of Carr Hall, Whalley New Road, Wilpshire, and Brian Ingleby, 69 and David Cotterell, 57, of Percliff Way, Philips Road, Blackburn, pleaded not guilty to the charges put to them.

The Donelans and Ingleby had been charged with executing the demolition of the building, while Andrew Donelan, Cotterell and Ingleby had been charged with failing to notify the local authority of the intended demolition.

The defendants' firms, Donelan Trading, of Carr Hall, and Percliff Plant and Haulage Ltd, of Percliff Way, had also been charged with executing the demolition and failing to notify the local authority of its intended demolition. 

Lancashire Telegraph:

A case management hearing was held at Blackburn Magistrates' Court on April 19 where all five were granted unconditional bail and ordered to return to court, this time in Burnley, on August 31 for a five day trial.

At the beginning of the month, Ribble Valley Borough Council served an enforcement notice on the owners of the Punch Bowl Inn site, stating the building "must be restored to its former state”.

People were left astonished when the historic building, which was well-known for being haunted, was reduced to a pile of rubble in June.

The council’s enforcement notice, which it said was delivered by first class post, read: “The council is of the view it is expedient to take enforcement action, having regard to the effects of the works on the character of the building as one of special architectural and historic interest."

The council added the owners must “restore the building to its former state, as detailed in the existing elevation drawings and in the location shown on the location plan”.

A number of planning applications were submitted by Donelan Trading Ltd of Wilpshire, following their purchase of the pub, which was listed for sale in 2013.

The company originally applied for permission to convert the pub into five holiday lets and a cafe, which included the demolition of certain parts of the building and the erection of an extension, as well as a pitch for 20 static caravans, but the plans were rejected by Ribble Valley Borough Council in 2016.

A second application was submitted in 2018 for a similar development but this time with a 'pitch holiday lodge park with 15 units'. This was approved with conditions by the council in the same year.

In December, a planning application was submitted to the council, seeking permission for a change of use to land at the rear of the old pub so that a 15-strong static caravan holiday park could be built on the site.

The pub dates back to the 18th and 19th century and had a variety of uses through its years including domestic cottages, an inn and for farming, with notorious Highwaymen Dick Turpin and Ned King reported to have stayed at the site.