Residents living at the former Moor Hospital site in Lancaster say they are “absolutely devastated” after an historic cricket pavilion was demolished without permission.
The Art Deco pavilion, which had listed building status, was pulled down over the last fortnight by developers PJ Livesey, despite awaiting planning permission from Lancaster City Council.
The council has said it is taking the matter seriously, with planning enforcement already having begun.
Paula Richardson, who lives on the new High Wood estate, said residents had hoped to gain lottery funding to preserve the pavilion and develop a community hub.
“We were looking into who owned the land and property to try to sort out some fundraising,” she said. “I went away on holiday and was horrified to see that it had been pulled down on my return.
“It was a beautiful piece of Victorian history that has just been pulled down and they will probably just get a slap on the wrist which they will be quite happy with.
“Our heritage should be protected. I am absolutely devastated and disgusted that this has been allowed to happen.”
Hannah Danks, who lives close to the site, said: “Why should developers demolish listed buildings and at worst get a small fine that doesn’t deter them at all?
“They should be prevented from further building on the site. We wouldn’t get away with it.”
Concerns have also been raised about the possibility that asbestos was present in the building.
One concerned resident said: “As the father of a two-year-old who plays on the adjoining field, Livesey’s should be held to account. They have been reported to the HSE and the council.
“Livesey’s have demolished the pavilion knowing that the worst that will happen is a slap on the wrist. It was calculated.”
Ward councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox said: “PJ Livesey’s pre-emptive demolition of the cricket pavilion without listed building consent is an act of appalling vandalism.
“It directly contravenes the original site planning condition which required the cricket pavilion to be ‘retained and restored’.
“Livesey’s own structural surveyor reported in June that ‘most of these defects are of minor structural importance.’
“I’m really encouraged that the city council is responding to the seriousness of the situation and I will be pushing for the council’s enforcement action to culminate in a requirement on Livesey to re-build the pavilion as it was.
“It’s even more galling for residents as it comes on top of the loss of the nearby bowling green and extensive removal of trees last year to enable Livesey’s further housing development in the former grounds.”
A Lancaster City Council spokesman said: “PJ Livesey have submitted applications for partial demolition of the cricket pavilion.
“However, the council is aware of the works, which required listed building consent.
“The severity of the situation has been communicated by the council to the developer. The council has already commenced the planning enforcement process, and further details regarding this will be available in due course.”
A spokesman for PJ Livesey said: “Discussions between PJ Livesey and Lancaster City Council around the cricket pavilion at Moor Park have been ongoing for a number of years and in July this year the company applied for permission to partially demolish the structure, leaving part of the foundations which would be incorporated into a new seating area.
“There is evidence that the pavilion is frequently being used for illegal drug use and there were serious concerns for public safety, particularly as previous attempts to secure the building have proved unsuccessful.
“We are continuing to work with the council and believe the extensive works to restore the cricket pitch into a usable green space will provide a real community benefit.
“The PJ Livesey Group has a 40-year record for restoring and converting listed buildings up and down the country including the annexe at Lancaster Moor Hospital where elements originally due for demolition have been retained.”