Sinkhole bill reaches £650,000 but government refuses to help St Albans and Herts councils

The partially filled in sinkhole on Fontmell Close which has had over 500 cubic metres of foamed con

The partially filled in sinkhole on Fontmell Close which has had over 500 cubic metres of foamed concrete poured into it - Credit: Archant

Five families living close to the St Albans sinkhole have now been in temporary accommodation for nearly six months to allow for more survey work around the 12-metre-wide cavity.

However, it is hoped that the day of their return home is drawing nearer, as a report on the findings will be finalised within the next few weeks.

A report to St Albans district council’s cabinet last Thursday (17) said ground investigations, including boreholes and angled drilling, took place between December and February in and around Fontmell and Bridle Closes.

Peter Brett Associates, on behalf of Herts county council, has been co-ordinating the further investigative work in conjunction with loss adjustors representing those homes closest to the cavity, which appeared suddenly in Fontmell Close on October 1 last year.

The investigations have been conducted following an initial microgravity survey by Geotechnology Ltd in October which warned of ‘anomalies’ near the depression, including a possible cavity up to three times larger than the sinkhole.

Once the results of the further investigations are explained to residents in the cul de sacs, a decision will be made on remedial work to the road.

So far the sinkhole has cost the district council about £200,000 in providing services, including security, as a result of the emergency situation, with the county council spending around £450,000.

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After the cabinet meeting Cllr Beric Read, the council’s portfolio holder for community engagement, said that nearly six months after the sinkhole appeared and “greatly disrupted the lives of residents living nearby, we were presented with a formidable challenge in trying to return the area to normal.

“It will continue until all utilities have been reconnected and the road fully repaired, and the families are back in their homes.”

• The Department of Communities and Local Government has rejected an application to help with the district and county councils’ emergency response costs, prompting St Albans MP Anne Main to say: “I am obviously disappointed by the department’s response, and am currently in discussions with the council about how best to proceed.

“The sinkhole was an expensive and unforeseen event, and I believe it was a reasonable request to aid St Albans council with emergency costs. I am fully supportive of the council in this matter, and I will be robustly supporting them going forward.”