An East Lancashire council is stepping up its legal action to force the owners of a listed 18th Century pub that was illegally demolished to rebuild it.

The Punch Bowl Inn in Hurst Green, Lancashire, was bulldozed by Donelan Trading Ltd after the group ignored a council decision in June 2021.

Five people were fined more than £20,000 last year for their role in knocking down the Grade II-listed building.

The owners were ordered to rebuild it to its original plan based on architectural records by March this year.

However, no reconstruction work has taken place and now Ribble Valley Council is seeking a new court order to make them do so.

The authority is now applying to the High Court for an injunction to force the owners to comply with its March 2023 Enforcement Notice.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Punch Bowl before it was illegally demolishedThe Punch Bowl before it was illegally demolished

In a report to Ribble Valley Council's planning and development committee meeting on Thursday night, the borough's head of legal and democratic services Mair Hill informed councillors of the move.

It said: "Committee will recall that the council issued an Enforcement Notice (and successfully defended its appeal) requiring the owner to restore the building to its former state within one year of the notice taking effect.

"This period elapsed in March 2024.

"Throughout the period the council has endeavoured to ensure that this was complied with and has corresponded with, discussed in person and facilitated meetings on site with the highway authority and traffic management companies.

"Notwithstanding these efforts the owner has failed to restore the building and maintains a position that any restoration of the building should be in a different position from its original site.

Lancashire Telegraph: The pub was knocked down illegally and must be rebuiltThe pub was knocked down illegally and must be rebuilt (Image: Lancs Telegraph)

"This is not acceptable to the council and no evidence has been presented to the council to establish that it is not possible to comply with the enforcement notice.

"The council will therefore proceed to seek injunctive relief requiring compliance with the notice and has informed the land owner of this position."

In March 2023, The Punch Bowl Inn's owners and contractor Percliff were ordered to pay a range of fines and costs totalling £69,125 at Blackburn Magistrates' Court by district judge Alexander Boyd, who said the company was aware the demolition of the building was a criminal offence when it took place.

The three owners - Andrew Donelan, his wife Nicola Donelan and daughter Rebecca Donelan - had told the court they were worried the building had become unsafe and they believed it had got worse over the years and had been broken into and targeted by arsonists.