Mine-blighted homes chalk up happy ending

Hole caused by chalk mines in Highbarns, Hemel Hempstead, in 2007.
Hole caused by chalk mines in Highbarns, Hemel Hempstead, in 2007.

SCORES of residents whose homes were blighted by the discovery of chalk mines beneath them will be celebrating after funding for corrective work was found.

Around 60 householders in Nash Mills, and potentially many more, have suffered with difficulties selling their homes since a network of tunnels was discovered four years ago when a patio collapsed.

Funding to fill the mines with concrete fell through when the new coalition government binned a special fund as part of austerity measures, but lobbying by Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning means £2.5 million has now been found.

Mr Penning said: “I’m over the moon but the key thing for this was to remove this terrible blight on people who had done nothing wrong.”

Council chiefs hope to start work filling in the mines in a year’s time once further surveys have been carried out to establish their true extent.

The centre of the mine is believed to be beneath the junction of Highbarns and East Green, where a temporary road block has been set up, but it could stretch to an area bordered by Belswains Lane, Barnacres, Bunkers Park and Chambersbury Lane.

During the work, which is expected to take 18 months, many residents will have to move out of their homes for one or two weeks while the work takes place.

Steve Baker, assistant director of legal services at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “The cost of relocating is not covered by the fund.

“It will be down to the individual to make their own arrangements.”

The mine is believed to have been dug to produce chalk used in paper making at John Dickinson.

Do you live in the area affected by the chalk mines? How have you been affected? Contact the newsdesk on 01442 262311 or email thegazette@jpress.co.uk