Five people illegally demolished the Grade-II listed pub the Punch Bowl Inn, a judge has decided.
A trial at Burnley Magistrates Court found that 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 pub in Longridge Road, Hurst Green.
Ribble Valley Borough Council, which brought the case to court, said the pub, which was Grade II listed, was razed to the ground unlawfully on June 15, 2021.
All five were found guilty of executing the demolition of the building, while Andrew Donelan, Nicola Donelan, Cotterell and Ingleby were charged with failing to notify the local authority of the intended demolition.
During the four-day trial which started on Wednesday, November 30, the court was told there was ‘no need’ to demolish the pub by Gez Pegram, director at the construction engineering company Mason Clark Associates.
The defence tried to argue the building needed to be demolished due to structural issues however the judge said that, although the building was in a bad state, he was 'unconvinced' it needed to be demolished as it was.
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 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 unlawfully demolished.
All five will be sentenced on January 24 at Burnley Magistrates Court.