Hemel Hempstead sinkhole: Residents unable to return

Sinkhole Residents had to leave their homes in Oatridge Gardens for safety reasons

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Three days after a large sinkhole opened up in a suburban street in Hertfordshire, some residents are still unable to return to their homes.

The hole, about 35ft (9m) wide and 20ft (6m) deep opened up in Oatridge Gardens, Hemel Hempstead on Saturday.

Of the 48 flats and houses in the cul-de-sac, 34 have no gas supply but have some electricity and other services, and the 14 others cannot be occupied.

Work to fill the sinkhole with concrete is expected to begin on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association, which owns the homes in Oatridge Gardens, said accommodation for those residents who had to leave had been arranged in hotels.

Sinkhole Work to fill the sinkhole with concrete is expected to begin on Friday

"Hightown is working closely with all parties and our insurers (who are involving a leading expert in sinkholes), to make the area safe and to understand the cause of the sinkhole," she said.

When the estate was built in 2008, the site was "thoroughly investigated" and "piled foundations were designed by a structural engineer taking in to account the geo-technical reports", she added.

Arrangements have now been made to begin filling the hole with concrete and structural engineers will be monitoring the entire estate.

Dr Vanessa Banks, of the British Geological Society, said heavy rain had led to a rise in sinkhole numbers.

A house and three flats were also evacuated on Sunday night after another sinkhole appeared in the county.

The hole was found in a back garden in Croxley Green, near Rickmansworth.

Dr Banks said: "Sinkholes have not been caused by the weather, they are triggered by the weather.

"The cause is the existence of a cavity at depth, be it artificial or natural. The trigger is water passing through the ground."

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