Crooked House owners say demolition prevented risk to public

The owner of the Crooked House pub has said it was demolished because of health and safety concerns partly caused by members of the public taking souvenirs from the building.

In a planning appeal against an order to rebuild the venue, known as Britain’s wonkiest pub, exactly as it was before it was gutted by fire and then pulled down by an excavator last summer, ATE Farms has set out the case for its actions.

ATE Farms’ appeal statement argued that the pub would not be viable if rebuilt in the same location, as it was not operating as a pub prior to August 2023 because Marston’s brewery had sold it off due to its unviable location.

“In its current location, should it be rebuilt, there is no doubt that there would be a huge amount of interest in the first few months, however, this does not translate to continued and sustained interest to make the building work as a pub going forward,” the company said.

It has offered to rebuild the pub on other land it owns on a nearby road to the north and said it could have “comparable proportions”, as well as an education centre about the area’s history of mining, which was responsible for the slant of the pub.

ATE Farms added that it would also build residential homes for retirement living on the same site.

The Crooked House: timeline

July 2023: The Crooked House pub sold by Marston’s to ATE Farms, four months after it was put up for sale
August 2023: The pub is demolished by a 14-tonne excavator, two days after being seriously damaged in a fire
February 2024: South Staffordshire Council serves an enforcement notice against ATE Farms, ordering it to rebuild the pub to replicate its original, tilted state
March 2024: ATE Farms lodges an appeal against the notice
July 2024: Planning Inspectorate to conduct inquiry to decide on the appeal

The company stated that the fire on 5 August saw a “substantial part” of the structure of the pub in Himley, Staffordshire, destroyed.

ATE Farms was “not in any way responsible for the start of the fire”, nor did it instruct anyone else to start it, the appeal document said.

According to the company, a structural engineer working for South Staffordshire Council visited the site on 7 August last year and “confirmed that three sections of building were unsafe and required immediate removal with the overarching requirement to make the building safe”.

The council said last year that it agreed to the removal of three elements of the first-floor front elevation only, and has accused the company of breaching planning regulations with its other actions.

However, ATE Farms said it had not foreseen that the removal of the three agreed elements would leave the rest of the building unsafe.

Having removed the upper sections of the building on 7 August 2023, contractors working for ATE felt the building was “completely unsafe and at a high (and unacceptable risk) of collapse”, and “the situation on the land was such that, due to the amount of media attention and public attendance, a decision had to be taken quickly as to the immediate safety of the building”.

“It was considered that there was a high risk of the building collapsing and causing serious injury or a fatality on the land given the entry on to the land by large numbers of people, some of whom were conducting vigils and others removing bricks and other items as memorabilia/for sale,” ATE Farms claimed in its appeal statement.

South Staffordshire Council said last year that “the situation was managed following the fire [in a manner that was] completely unacceptable and contrary to instructions provided by our officers”.

The National Federation of Demolition Contractors said shortly afterwards that “no respectable demolition contractor would carry out works in the manner seen in the pictures circulating in the media”.

The Planning Inspectorate is due to hear the case on 23 July.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said in a social media post that the appeal was “utterly laughable”.

He added: “The Crooked House must be restored brick by brick in its original setting – just as South Staffs Council have ordered. You don’t get to rewrite our history.”

Since the fire, Staffordshire Police have arrested two men on suspicion of committing arson with intent to endanger life, as well as three other men and one woman on suspicion of conspiracy to commit arson with intent or being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

A police spokesperson said yesterday (15 April) that all six remain on conditional bail pending further enquiries.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top