Developers must rebuild ‘haunted’ pub after illegally demolishing it

A property developer group has been ordered to rebuild a historic Lancashire pub after destroying it illegally.

The Punch Bowl Inn in Hurst Green, Ribble Valley, was knocked down by Donelan Trading Ltd and a contractor in June 2021 after they reportedly tired of waiting for council permission to bulldoze the building.

They claimed the boozer had been damaged by arsonists and had fallen into disrepair before they pressed on with demolition work.

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However, Ribble Valley Council said it had tried to communicate with the five defendants, who were sentenced at Blackburn Magistrate's Court and handed fines of more than £20,000.

The Grade-II listed watering hole, which closed its doors for good in 2012, was believed to be haunted by the ghost of Ned King, a highwayman who terrorised the area's roads and frequented the drinking spot in the first half of the 18th century before his execution in 1741.

The pub itself was built in the 1720s.

A trial last year at Burnley Magistrates' Court, found Andrew Donelan, 61, Nicola Donelan, 59, Rebecca Donelan, 29, David Cotterell, 58, and Brian Ingleby, 70, had all played a part in unlawfully demolishing the boozer.

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At a hearing yesterday (Wednesday, March 8) they were each handed fines for their role in the destruction of the boozer.

A separate planning process saw them ordered to restore the pub in full, both inside and out, using the building's original materials or other materials deemed suitable by Ribble Valley Council.

The companies involved were Donelan Trading Ltd which owned the pub, and Percliff Ltd, a contractor.

Mr Donelan owns Donelan Trading Ltd, while his wife is the secretary.

Defending, David Lawson told the court the defendants believed the building had become unsafe after the pub closed, adding that it had fallen into disrepair over the years.

He also claimed Ribble Valley Council had not acted properly or fast enough with his clients becoming frustrated.

At Blackburn Magistrates' Court, Donelan Trading Ltd was fined £12,000, handed a £1,200 court surcharge and ordered to pay £20,000 towards costs, meaning fees totalled £33,200.

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Andrew Donelan himself received a £2,000 fine, a £200 surcharge and told to pay £2,000 towards costs, while Nicola Donelan was given a £1,000 fine, a £100 surcharge and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Rebecca Donelan received a lower £200 fine, a £25 surcharge and told to pay £250 towards costs.

Purcliff Ltd was fined £5,600, had a £560 surcharge and told to pay £20,000 towards costs. Brian Ingleby was fined £1,000, given a £100 surcharge and charged £1,000.

David John Cotterell was fined £400, given a £40 surcharge and asked to pay £400 towards costs.

The businesses were told to pay fines, surcharges and costs soon while the individuals were given slightly longer periods to repay.

None of the individuals spoke in court.


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