Beds, Herts & Bucks

St Albans sinkhole: Road reopens after repairs

St Albans sinkhole Image copyright Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption The 33ft (10m) deep hole appeared in Fontmell Close, a former clay pit site, on 1 October last year

A residential road where a huge sinkhole opened up 14 months ago has reopened.

The 33ft (10m) deep hole appeared in Fontmell Close, St Albans, Hertfordshire, on 1 October last year.

Surveys established the hole was caused by the mine workings of a former clay pit. Expert assessments have since confirmed the road is safe and repairs were carried out.

St Albans mayor Frances Leonard said it was a "joyful day" for residents.

"Looking back, I have been particularly impressed by the way people have worked together to make the best of things and look after each other," she said.

'Extremely stressful'

Following the collapse in the early hours, families in more than 50 homes were left without power, water or sanitation before temporary solutions were provided for the majority.

Image caption Residents said they were unaware how big the hole was until they saw it in the media
Image caption Fontmell Close was closed to vehicles from the usual entrance to the road

Residents of Fontmell Close and Bridle Close had to use a temporary road built across a nearby heath as the road was inaccessible.

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The hole was filled with 48 lorry-loads of foamed concrete but before permanent repairs could be carried out, investigators had to ensure there was no further cause for concern.

A full microgravity survey and exploratory drilling established the hole was caused by ancient chalk excavations in the bedrock beneath a clay pit and a ground subsidence investigation found that no evidence "indicated further significant mined voids".

In August work began to reconnect the utilities to affected homes and then reinstate the road.

Four families had not been able to return to their homes since the hole opened up.

County councillor Terry Douris said it had been an "extremely stressful time" for residents.

"We appreciate it has taken some time to get to this stage, but we owed it to residents to make sure the area is safe, which it is, and that the reinstatement job is done properly," he said.

Image copyright Herts County Council
Image caption Hertfordshire County Council said permanent repairs could only be carried out when it was certain there was no further cause for concern
Image caption The county council worked with utilities companies to finish the work
Image caption Residents Rosemary and Derek Broom had what looked like a building site outside their home
Image caption Residents use a temporary road built across a nearby heath to get to their homes
Image caption The road finally reopening was a "joyful day", the mayor of St Albans said

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