by Henry James (May 2022)

DEVELOPERS of the Old Toby Inn in Skelmersdale, which was hit by a suspected arson earlier this year, now face legal action after they ‘unlawfully’ demolished the Grade II listed building.

Residents were shocked to see workmen flatten the historic former Skelmersdale Hall building on Saturday, May 7. The building on Ashurst Road, which dates back to 1712, was last used as the Old Toby pub.

It had been severely damaged in the fire on the evening of Friday, March 4 with arsonists believed to be behind the blaze.

Plans to build 60 apartments for extra-care living accommodation at the location by Cheshire-based applicant SEP Construction Services Ltd were withdrawn just weeks after the fire.

West Lancashire Borough Council said they are, “deeply disappointed” as they had been in discussions with the developer, following the fire at the site, with a view to restoring the building and bringing it back into use.

This was to be assessed through a listed building application, prior to any works being undertaken.

A council spokesperson said: “The council had clearly stated that demolition of the building was not considered acceptable and had outlined its expectations that any work to the listed building required Listed Building Consent.

“Whilst a Demolition Order was received a short time before the demolition took place, this does not remove the requirement to apply for Listed Building Consent.

“The demolition was unauthorised and therefore, a breach of planning law has taken place. Legal advice is currently being obtained to ensure that those responsible are held to account.”

Grimster Planning Ltd, who have been acting as the agents for SEP Construction Services Ltd, were contacted for comment.

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