A GRADE II Listed building has been demolished in an “extremely rare” move amid fears children could have been crushed by an unsafe wall.

Believing the “urgent” health and safety situation superseded normal planning processes, Bradford Council officers ordered the historic Cherry Tree Farm, in Fagley Lane, Eccleshill, to be razed to the ground.

The Council said the 18th century building was in a “perilous” state and had become a risk to children who have been known to frequent the site.

Vandals have previously damaged the former home, which is believed to have been built in 1754, leaving it derelict and hazardous.

The decision has angered some members of the community, who claimed they should have been consulted on its future.

Bradford Council said it took the preservation of listed and heritage buildings very seriously, but the safety of children must come first.

A spokesman explained: “The urgency of the situation was such that the building had to come down immediately.

“Children were known to have accessed the site before.

“Vandalism was so advanced that there was a free standing wall which at any moment could have fallen, crushing anyone in the vicinity. Given the perilous state of the property, the urgency of the situation supersedes the normal planning process.

“When a building becomes this dangerous, the Building Act overrides planning law. Demolition of listed buildings under health and safety is extremely rare and the risk must be serious.

“The owners will still have to apply for retrospective listed building consent and Historic England will have their say during that process.”

Heritage groups spoke of their anger in March last year when the Council applied for planning permission to demolish the derelict 19th century former St Andrew’s School in Listerhills Road, which was also Grade II Listed.

Conservation groups said at the time the structure could have been saved and claimed demolishing it sent a dangerous message that listed buildings can be razed if they get into a dilapidated state.

Michael De Greasley, the former chairman of the Eccleshill Local History Group, said he has tried to find out who owns the land on which Cherry Tree Farm stood, but has had little success.

He said: “It’s disgusting and I want to know how the land has been sold and the building knocked down.

“People want to know what’s happening and Bradford Council need to do something because it’s history of overseeing buildings in Eccleshill is deplorable.

“If nobody has been consulted about this then it need to be put back to how it was.

“This is a site that is more than 250-years-old and it should have at least had someone look over it.”

Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: “It’s a bit of a mystery who owns the land and I have asked the Council for clarification.

“It definitely isn’t part of the Fagley Youth & Community Centre development site.

“I hope whoever the owner is can shed some light on what has happened.

“It’s very worrying for a lot of people and I am well aware Listed buildings are a lot more protected than other buildings.

“I went past the site on a bike ride and saw some workmen there along with a couple of skips, but the workers didn’t speak English very well.

“It is distressing it has happened in this way, it is one of a few bits of Eccleshill left that were here more than 200 years ago.

“Just because it’s in a state of disrepair doesn’t mean it loses its listed building status.”

The building has had a chequered recent history. In 2006, its traditional slate roof was stolen piece by piece before being recovered from a man’s lorry and taken to a basement in City Hall for safekeeping. This was just days before the building sold at auction for £194,000, as the Telegraph & Argus reported in July 2006. Auctioneer Tony Webber said at the time the council were keen to sell the property because thieves kept removing the roof.