A BUILDER has been left with an £81,000 legal bill after ignoring repeated council calls to restore land behind a rural pub.

Planning chiefs in Rossendale became embroiled in a lengthy dispute with Stanley Ainsworth, 73, over the curtilage of the former Glory pub in Loveclough.

The owner of Ribble Valley Luxury Homes had secured planning permission to convert the former Burnley Road hostelry into apartments.

But he fell foul of the borough council's planning regulations when he was extended the rear boundary into the open countryside.

Preston Crown Court heard he left a shipping container and piles of aggregate on the land.

This led to a number of enforcement notices being issued to Ainsworth, who is from Eastham House Farm, Mitton, near Clitheroe, which he was said to have ignored.

Prosecution proceedings followed and the builder, and his firm, were found guilty of three offence apiece, all relating to failures of heed the enforcement warnings.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Heather Lloyd fined Ainsworth £45,000 and ordered him to pay £36,669 in court costs. No separate penalties were imposed on Ribble Valley Luxury Homes, of which the defendant is a director.

Cllr Adrian Lythgoe, the council's development control portfolio holder, was unavailable for comment last night.

An update was provided for councillors last August, setting out the history of the council's battles with Ainsworth and his company.

In a report to the council's development control committee, the authority's planning manager Mike Atherton said: "Extensive officer time and effort was spent in putting the prosecution case together in order to prove an alteration in the land levels going back to 2012."

Former enforcement officer James Dalgleish, gave evidence at the trial.