Developers demolished a historic pub. Now they must rebuild it brick by brick

“By nine o’clock in the morning, it was just a pile of rubble,” Brown said.

The council took legal action against Donelan’s company. Going to the courts was rare in cases like this, said Killian Garvey, the lawyer who represented the Ribble Valley council.

“In England we’ve got huge amounts of listed buildings,” said Garvey, who specialises in planning law. “We’re very lucky in that respect.”

There are 400,000 listed buildings in England, according to the British government. If they’re demolished, local planning authorities can penalise those responsible, Garvey said.

“That will only work when you’ve got bodies like Ribble Valley being proactive and saying, ‘If you mess around with them, we’ll throw the book at you,’ ” he added.

The Ribble Valley council wanted to set a precedent on behalf of Hurst Green’s “horrified” residents, who were shocked by the speed of the demolition, Brown said. The council ordered Donelan’s company against removing the piles of wood and sandstone from the site. They remain sprawled along the road where the pub once stood.

Donelan and four others were found guilty in December of demolishing the pub, the Lancashire Telegraph reported. In March, an inspector denied an appeal from Donelan and confirmed several penalties, including a fine and a strict rebuilding assignment.

Ample documentation exists of the Punch Bowl Inn’s layout and construction, Brown said, which Donelan’s company will have to follow closely when rebuilding the pub. The company will submit an assessment of the rubble to determine which materials are still usable in the pub’s reconstruction, which planning authorities will approve, according to court documents.

Brown said the process will probably be costly and painstaking – she estimates much of the stone is still usable.

As for residents upset by the demolition: “I think they feel justice has been done,” she said.

Other councils across the United Kingdom might agree. Garvey said that he’s received inquiries from other groups looking to launch similar challenges after news of Ribble Valley’s victory. Historic England, a government body that manages the preservation of listed buildings, applauded the council for taking action.

“It’s encouraging when heritage crime, like the demolition of the Punch Bowl Inn, is taken seriously,” a Historic England spokesperson said in a statement to The Post. “Demolishing our cherished listed buildings without consent is a crime that impacts the whole community and we hope that this case serves as a deterrent.”

The Washington Post

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