Sinkhole leaves house close to collapse in Yorkshire

The house in Ripon where a 25ft sinkhole has caused a crack. Picture: PA
The house in Ripon where a 25ft sinkhole has caused a crack. Picture: PA
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A SINKHOLE has opened under a detached house, leaving part of the structure close to collapse and a community concerned about their properties.

No-one was hurt when the 25ft-wide hole opened up beneath the 100-year-old building in Magdalen’s Close in Ripon, North Yorkshire, at 5:40pm on Monday.

Firefighters rescued a dog from the property before the area was sealed off amid fears that the precariously leaning side of the brick property could fall at any time. Yesterday, neighbours said the 30ft-high wing was still moving.

Local councillor Stuart Martin said he had spoken to the family living in the house and they were “very distressed”.

Residents said there was a long-standing problem with gypsum-related subsidence – gypsum is a particularly soft rock which is often disolved by underground water, leading to subsidence and potential collapse – in the area, which had caused other homes to collapse over the years.

Emily Moon, who lives opposite the property, said: “We’ve been aware for quite some time that there’s a gypsum problem in this area. It’s a worry for us residents. We’re assured that our buildings are safe. But it’s a bit close for comfort, really.”

Mr Martin, a Tory councillor on Harrogate Borough Council, said planning permission for more than 70 homes had just been refused on a derelict site next to the building. He said: “I’m a little bit shocked by what’s happened today. Surprised? Perhaps not, because there is a history of gypsum dissolution.”

The British Geological Survey has said that the most susceptible area in the UK for sinkholes is the Permian gypsum deposits of north-east England, particularly around Ripon.

It says large sinkholes have developed around Ripon, because gypsum is far more soluble than limestone, and thus dissolves more rapidly. The sinkhole is the latest of a spate to appear, after a 35ft-wide and 20ft-deep hole opened up under homes in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, on Saturday morning.

Last week a stretch of the M2 in north Kent was closed after a 15ft-deep hole was discovered in the central reservation, and on 2 February a car was swallowed up when a 30ft-deep crater appeared in a driveway in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Two more sinkholes have since appeared about a mile from the one on the M2.