Action demanded after iconic Clitheroe buildings demolition 'cock-up'

The gaping hole left by the demolition.
The gaping hole left by the demolition.
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The reinstatement of the façade of two iconic town centre shops has been demanded after they were recently razed to the ground by developers.


Ribble Valley Borough Councillor Allan Knox is demanding that the façade of the former Clitheroe Advertiser and Times' office and the The Chocolate Box shop in King Street are reinstated after they were demolished earlier this month.

The site following the demolition.

The site following the demolition.

During the demolition, which has left a gaping hole in the town centre street, shoppers and local residents expressed their shock and sadness on social media after spotting bulldozers and demolition crews tearing down the historic buildings which were both in Clitheroe's Conservation Area.

And it has subsequently come to light that the buildings were demolished after a mains electricity cable was severed during the works.

Nicola Hopkins, Ribble Valley Borough Council’s director of economic development and planning, explained to the Clitheroe Advertiser: “The building at 3 King Street had planning permission for conversion to seven apartments.

“While contractors were clearing the site, a mains electricity cable was severed. The owners contacted the council, Electricity North West and their structural engineer immediately.

“Our building control team conducted a site visit straight away and concluded that the only course of action from a health and safety perspective was to demolish the building under the emergency provisions of the Building Act 1984 to enable Electricity North West to deal with the live cable."

The Clitheroe Advertiser and The Chocolate Box used to occupy the site.

The Clitheroe Advertiser and The Chocolate Box used to occupy the site.

She added: “We take the protection of the built environment seriously and are conducting a rigorous investigation into the matter, and will take the necessary enforcement action.”

Describing the whole state of affairs as an "atrocious incident", Coun. Knox said: “Whether you believe in conspiracy theory or cock-up, it is the first duty of all councillors to hold the feet of the developers and the planning department to the fire and ensure that the façade is reinstated.

“I note the statement by director of economic development and planning, and hope she will ensure her department ensures that the wishes of the people of Clitheroe for the reinstatement happens.

“I also hope that the developer and the council will work closely with the Civic Society on this project.”

The Chocolate Box.

The Chocolate Box.

The much-loved Chocolate Box closed last year after 91 years of serving customers Belgian Chocolates, sweets, ice cream and a range of other treats. The beautiful shop was established in 1927 and retained many of its original fixtures and fittings.

The Clitheroe Advertiser newspaper staff waved a final farewell to the King Street premises in October 2014 when they moved to new premises.

Steve Burke, chairman of Clitheroe Civic Society, said: "We are clearly concerned to see the complete loss of this building which, though not listed, lies at the heart of the conservation area, had great social historical significance – not least because of its connection with the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times – and was in integral part of the street scape. It warranted better than this."

He added that the Society hopes that "the costs which the council and therefore the council tax and business rate payers of the borough will incur to sort this mess out will be bourne entirely by those responsible for this mess".

How the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times office used to look in its heyday on King Street.

How the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times office used to look in its heyday on King Street.

For more reaction to this story see next week's Clitheroe Advertiser and Times newspaper.