TWO men will have to pay more than £20,000 after pleading guilty to demolishing a listed building in Coppull without permission.

Adrian Dutton, 44, of Riviera Del Mare, Cadiz, Spain and Michael Quirk, 37, of Walkden Avenue, Wigan, admitted their part in the offence, which saw the historic Holt Farm knocked down between 15 December 2017 and 28 February 2018.

Chorley Council successfully brought the prosecution and Deputy District Judge Maxwell described the actions of the pair as ‘reckless’ and that there was ‘a public duty to ensure people don’t just ignore the listing of buildings’.

Cllr Paul Walmsley, who is responsible for planning enforcement at Chorley Council, said: “It’s really important that we protect the historic buildings in the borough and if we find people breaking the law then we will take action.

“This case was a classic example of people thinking they could get away with knocking down what might have appeared a run down building in parts, but had importance in the context of Chorley’s history.

“If people are thinking of doing work to a property like this, which is listed, you have to follow the proper procedures otherwise you face being taken to court and getting a criminal record.”

The history of Holt Farm can be traced back to the 14th century and was the ancient home of the Chisnall family. While it had undergone several renovations, it was a Grade II listed building as it retained the core of a late medieval timber-framed building and was also of architectural interest.

Property developer Dutton bought the farm in 2016 and got planning permission and listed building consent for renovations and alterations, but not for the full demolition of the building.

Between December 2017 and February last year the building was demolished and a steel frame had been erected in its place as a starting point for building a new property.

The work was carried out by Quirk, who was employed by Dutton.

“The message from this case is very simple – if people carry out unauthorised work we will take action and go to court if necessary,” said Councillor Walmsley.

“If you are looking to carry out work to your property and are not sure whether permissions are required then please get in touch and we can advise.

“If you become aware of people carrying out unauthorised work then we’d ask you to report it to us.”

Dutton was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £9,500 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

Quirk, who the judge said was less culpable because he was following the instructions of Dutton who employed him, was fined £500, ordered to pay £100 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

The case was heard at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 20 December.