No sinking feeling for sold house near sinkhole, but six weeks of work expected to stabilise site

Property advertised in Masons Road, Hemel Hempstead.
Property advertised in Masons Road, Hemel Hempstead.

A house just around the corner from the 35ft sinkhole that opened up in Hemel Hempstead in February has been sold to a mystery buyer.

The four-bedroom property in Adeyfield’s Masons Road, near the sinkhole site in Oatridge Gardens, has been snapped up despite its proximity to the hole.

The Hemel Hempstead sinkhole. Courtesy of SKM Studio - Airscape Division:

The Hemel Hempstead sinkhole. Courtesy of SKM Studio - Airscape Division:

The home was advertised as town-based estate agent Sterling’s ‘Property of the Week’, but has since been taken down after the sale was completed, either as a private purchase or through another agency.

Advertisements for the property make no mention of the gigantic crater – caused by supposed former chalk mines and clay pits – which appeared just 0.2 miles away.

Sterling spokesman Tom Jump said: “The vendor called up for the house to be taken off the market as they had secured a buyer.

“We do not know whether the sale was private or not but it was a successful purchase – we are not certain of the exact figure but would estimate it around the £400,000 mark.

“We haven’t had any dealings with the buyer, but from experience we imagine this kind of property would be sold to a family.

“The house was a brand new property and up for sale even before the sinkhole appeared, so we imagine it had no bearing on the sale and wasn’t the reason for it going on the market.”

Previously, Oatridge Gardens homeowner Richard Phillips, 27, saw a buyer for his shared ownership flat pull out of the £72,000 deal after the 20ft-deep cavity opened up beneath a house on February 15.

The phenomenon is believed to have been caused by the building of homes on a former brickworks, on behalf of housing association Hightown Praetorian and Churches.

Work could start this week to stabilise the ground underneath the affected homes on Oatridge Gardens.

Ten of the homes above the craters left by supposed former chalk mines and clay pits below the road are still out of bounds to the people who live there.

Temporary accommodation bookings have been extended for a further four weeks by Hightown.

Spokesman for the housing association Emma Crump said: “On the advice of Dr Clive Edmonds, a leading sinkhole expert, remedial work to stabilise the ground around the immediate area where the sinkhole appeared will be completed before reconnecting utilities to the original supply points.

“The contractors visited the site on Friday and will be on site to start the special grouting works from the middle of this week.

“The work will involve a large rig and materials being brought to the site. We apologise to local neighbours in advance that this process is likely to be quite noisy during the work, which will take place between 8am and 6pm.”

The work is expected to take at least a further four weeks to complete, with up to two more weeks expected for utility companies including BT and gas and electric providers to restore supplies.