Hurst Green's Punch Bowl demolition saga continues as authorities explore the West Midland's Crooked House pub fire
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Following news that an investigation has begun this week into the sudden demolition of the famous West Midlands pub the Crooked House, Catherine Musgrove looked into what’s happening at the site of the Ribble Valley pub thrown into the national spotlight.
Andrew Donelan, Nicola Donelan, and Rebecca Donelan, all of Carr Hall, Whalley New Road, Wilpshire; David Cotterell, of Percliff Way, Philips Road, Blackburn; and Brian Ingleby of Hollowhead Avenue, Blackburn, were found guilty after a trial last year of unlawfully demolishing the Punch Bowl in Longridge Road, Hurst Green, in June 2021.
After losing an appeal in March 2023, they were fined a total of £69,075 and the owners ordered to restore the building to its former state within a year.
Click here for more about the court case and appeal
Holiday let application twist
For months there was no obvious sign of work at the site, with Donelan Trading even applying for permission just days after the court case to build seven holiday lets "in the precise form and appearance of the previous buildings".
Their agent claimed that while the owners were happy to rebuild the former building, they were "concerned that to re-build the buildings in their exact previous form would prove unacceptable as it would continue various aspects of the previous buildings which have proved unsatisfactory in its previous incarnations."
He also said there was no viable future for a pub on the site.
The application was rejected last month by Ribble Valley Borough Council, who said if approved, the holiday let application would "have the effect of regularising the unauthorised demolition of the original public house, which is the breach of planning control stated in the enforcement notice."
What's the latest?
Now discussions are ongoing regarding the suitability of on-site material for use in rebuilding.
Historic Buildings Consultant Chris O'Flaherty has been on site and inspected the materials.
He found many 20th century building materials used for recent additions which "were agreed to possess negligible heritage value and were thus separated as waste from the older/traditional materials."
In his report he added: "Of those older/traditional materials, the bulk was found to be in very poor condition.
"Virtually no timber (joinery and structural) was salvageable due to decay and fire damage. No usable roofing slates were uncovered. No whole lintels or cills were uncovered, however fragments of broken pieces were found.
"The majority of the rubble stone walling was found to be seriously eroded and crumbling in texture, including fragments of stone etc used for rubble fill walling and internal backings.
"Some salvageable stone was however reclaimed and the pile of usable stone has been separated out from the crumbling material."
The Crooked House
Petitions have been signed by thousands of people calling for The Crooked House in Himley, Staffordshire, to be rebuilt after it was devasted by fire and demolished without council permission this week.
The pub named Britain’s wonkiest after it began to sink due to mining in the area, and featured on TV and on social media clips showing items appearing to roll up the bar.