UK sinkhole expert says gaping Hemel Hempstead cavity should be filled with special concrete

The sinkhole in Oatridge Gardens, Hemel Hempstead.
The sinkhole in Oatridge Gardens, Hemel Hempstead.

A sinkhole expert says the one that appeared in Hemel Hempstead on Saturday should be filled with special concrete.

Seventeen homes were evacuated after it was spotted at about 7.30am. It measures 35 feet wide and 20 feet deep and has now begun swallowing up the road.

Leading sinkhole expert Dr Clive Edmunds visited the Oatridge Gardens sinkhole yesterday and advised the main owner of the housing estate to fill it with special concrete.

Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association – which commissioned construction company the Jarvis Group to build the estate in 2008 – says the work is due to begin on Friday.

There are 24 two-bedroom apartments and 24 two, three and four-bedroom houses in Oatridge Gardens. Twelve houses are rented and 36 homes have been sold through shared ownership.

Hightown spokesman Emma Crump today said: “Once the structural engineers on site are satisfied that the immediate site is stable, the whole of the estate will be monitored and probed.

“Hightown is continuing to support residents by arranging hotel accommodation for households who are unable to stay with family and friends, ensuring they have somewhere to stay until next week, when the situation will be reviewed.

“We have informed six households who will not be able to return to their homes in the short term, that our insurers will be working with them to find suitable temporary alternative accommodation.

“The situation is changing all of the time and we are communicating directly with residents to keep them updated.

“In recent weeks we have been working with Jarvis Group and Affinity Water to investigate a potential water leak which had caused damage to the porch of one of the houses.

“Just before midnight on Thursday, February 13, a second resident emailed one of our staff to notify us of broken paving slabs on his path. We arranged for a contractor to visit the site to address this on Saturday morning.

“This same resident sent an email to a member of staff at 9pm on Friday evening reporting movement within his house. The member of staff would obviously not be picking up work emails until Monday. He did not contact Hightown’s emergency repairs line.”