Another twist in Punchbowl Inn saga as historic tavern remains a pile of bricks

Site of the listed pub The Punch Bowl on Longridge Road near Hurst Green, which was demolished without permission
-Credit: (Image: James Maloney/Lancs Live)


Nearly three years after it was pulled down without permission, there has been another twist in the tale of the Grade II-listed Punch Bowl Inn.

A council is turning up the pressure for the historic 18th Century to be rebuilt brick by brick after developers razed it to the ground. The Punchbowl Inn in Hurst Green stood on its Longridge Road site for more than three centuries but was demolished by developers Donelan Trading in 2021.

Five people were fined more than £20,000 after they ignored a council decision and flattened the Grade II listed building. The owners were given a deadline of March this year to rebuild the pub - at an estimated cost of £1.5 million. However the site remains a pile of rubble and no work has been carried out to put it right.

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Now, in a new twist of the ongoing saga, Ribble Valley Council is seeking a High Court Order to force Donelan Trading to begin the redevelopment. 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.

“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 site of the former Punch Bowl Inn at Hurst Green
Andrew Donelan and wife Nicola Donelan pictured leaving Blackburn Magistrates Court, Lancashire. Photo by James Maloney/LancsLive

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.

Their defence lawyer said: "It's often said that the Ribble Valley is an area of outstanding natural beauty. But in the 2010s, the Punch Bowl could not be described as beautiful. It had suffered years of neglect.

"Mr Donelan decided to buy it in 2015, when its value may have been £200,000 to £250,000? Their intentions were good, irrespective of the prosecution in this court case saying they were reckless. "

The building had been broken into and a chimney was thought to be leaving before the demolition. The family were worried someone would be injured if the building collapsed.