Sinkhole victims still can’t move back into their homes – three months later

The sinkhole in Hemel Hempstead
The sinkhole in Hemel Hempstead

People from 30 of the properties next to the Hemel Hempstead sinkhole have still not returned to their homes – three months later.

And they are still having to pay rent to landlord Hightown Praetorian & Churches Housing Association.

Spokesman Emma Crump said: “Hightown’s insurance loss adjuster has advised residents to continue paying rent and service charges in accordance with their lease, as the insurers are covering the cost of temporary accommodation.”

The sinkhole – which was 35ft wide and 20ft deep – appeared next to their homes in Oatridge Gardens on Saturday, February 15. It was filled in just under a week later, but there are still fears about the stability of properties nearby.

It is believed that the sinkhole may have been caused by Hightown commissioning 48 homes to be built on the site of a former brickworks. There would have been many clay pits and chalk mines at the site when it was operational in the late 19th century.

But it is understood that they were all filled in, and full planning permission for the building project was granted by Dacorum Borough Council.

You can read more about the causes of the sinkhole here

Speaking today, Hightown spokesman Emma Crump said: “Remedial work to strengthen the ground around the junction of Wood Lane End and Oatridge Gardens is continuing.

“Unfortunately this work has taken longer than expected.

“Once this work is completed, we expect the utility companies to start work to reconnect the utilities – gas, BT and, for some homes, electricity.”

Since the 24 houses and 24 flats were built in Oatridge Gardens in 2008, 36 have been sold off through shared ownership. Just 10 of the homes are still completely out of bounds to the people who live there.

Emma said: “Only sixteen households are in hotel accommodation at the present time. Fourteen households are in rented accommodation organised by Hightown and our insurer’s loss adjuster.

“Thirteen households are living in their homes on the estate, with the remaining households staying with families and friends.”