Suspected sinkhole causes St Albans homes to be cordoned off while council searches for structural damage

PUBLISHED: 08:30 08 November 2018

A bird's eye view of the sinkhole on Cedar Court. Picture: Sharon Minkin Conrich.

A bird's eye view of the sinkhole on Cedar Court. Picture: Sharon Minkin Conrich.

Archant

A suspected sinkhole has put the future of 21 homes in jeopardy.

The hole was discovered on Cedar Court, off Cedarwood Drive, St Albans, at 5.50am on Tuesday by a member of the public.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene at 6.35am and began evacuating residents from the nearest block of 21 flats.

St Albans district council’s Building Control team carried out checks on the safety of the building, including inspecting whether there were any cracks.

An SADC spokesperson said: “The council was called out to Cedar Court regarding a hole that had opened up in the ground near some flats.

Herts Fire and Rescue's aerial shot of the Cedar Court sinkhole.Herts Fire and Rescue's aerial shot of the Cedar Court sinkhole.

“Council officers from our Building Control and Environmental Services teams have been down on site. The council has brought together an incident management team, as is usual in such circumstances.

“We are working with partners including the police and Hertfordshire County Council to make sure people are safe.“

The cause of the chasm is not yet known, nor has it been confirmed if it even is a sinkhole.

Police and firefighters were on site until 8pm on Tuesday to assist residents, who spent the night in hotels or with relatives.

A sinkhole has opened up in Cedar Court St Albans. Picture: Fraser WhieldonA sinkhole has opened up in Cedar Court St Albans. Picture: Fraser Whieldon

Hertfordshire County Council said on Tuesday: “Our priority is to ensure the safety of residents in the area.

“Utility services have also been on site to ensure gas, electricity and water supplies are isolated.

“We are working closely with St Albans City and District Council’s resilience team at the scene to ensure the safety wellbeing of residents in the area.”

The hole is believed to be around four metres wide and located in front of a block of flats, at the entrance to numbers 35 to 40 of Cedar Court.

Pictures taken by members of the public appear to show the hole goes underneath the flats.

St Albans is no stranger to sinkholes: in October 2015, a 40ft wide, 33ft deep one opened up on Fontmell Close in Bernards Heath, affecting around 50 residents.

Several of them were not able to return home for months while multiple, lengthy underground surveys were carried out and utilities were gradually reconnected.

The road was officially reopened on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 after it was found there was a backfilled clay pit beneath the sinkhole.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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