The council said it has “strongly advised” the owners of a demolished Grade II listed pub not to carry out any work on the site until legal action against them is resolved.

Earlier this week, a member of the public driving past the site of the former Punch Bowl Inn in Hurst Green, which has now been demolished, said he had seen some activity on the site, with a number of trucks and workmen spotted on the land.

He said: “On Thursday morning, I followed an earth mover being towed (at 10mph), and it turned off at the site of the Punch Bowl, where there are a number of vehicles on site.

“My concern is they are going to try something sly just before their sentencing, to delay proceedings even further.”

Lancashire Telegraph: The former Punch Bowl Inn siteThe former Punch Bowl Inn site (Image: Lancashire Telegraph)

Last year, five people, including the Donelan family who own the land, were found guilty of unlawfully demolishing the pub in June 2021, after Ribble Valley Borough Council brought the case to court.

A trial at Burnley Magistrates Court found Andrew Donelan, 60, Nicola Donelan, 58, and Rebecca Donelan, 28, all of Carr Hall, Whalley New Road, Wilpshire, David Cotterell, 57, of Percliff Way, Philips Road, Blackburn, and Brian Ingleby, 69, unlawfully demolished the building in Longridge Road, Hurst Green.

They are due to be sentenced next week.

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.

They then applied to repair the roof of the listed building, but again this was refused by the council.

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.

Lancashire Telegraph: The former Punch Bowl Inn siteThe former Punch Bowl Inn site (Image: Lancashire Telegraph)

In December 2021, 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, after the previous approved plans had expired.

Ribble Valley Borough Council had previously ordered Donelan to rebuild the pub after it was razed to the ground on June 15, 2021, and issued them with an enforcement notice.

Following movement at the site this week, Nicola Hopkins, Ribble Valley Borough Council’s director of economic development and planning, said: “I am aware of activity at the site and have strongly advised the owners not to undertake any work pending the outcome of their appeal against our enforcement notice.”

Workmen at Longridge Road told the Lancashire Telegraph that they were not carrying out any building or any preparation work, but were on site to clear some of the debris and flatten some of the land, which has now been completed.