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St Albans sinkhole: Four families unable to return home

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Four families who had to move out of their homes when a huge sinkhole opened up in their road are still waiting to return after a year.

The 33ft (10m) deep hole appeared in Fontmell Close, St Albans, a former clay pit site, on 1 October last year.

Investigations into the cause mean utilities to some homes have not yet been restored and the road has not reopened.

Hertfordshire County Council hopes the work will be completed by Christmas.

Following the collapse in the early hours, families in more than 50 homes were left without power, water or sanitation before temporary solutions were provided for the majority.

Residents still have to use a temporary road built across a nearby heath.

‘Extremely stressful’

A full microgravity survey and exploratory drilling established the hole was caused by old mine workings and a ground subsidence investigation report found that no evidence “indicated further significant mined voids”.

Councillor Terry Douris said: “It was essential that we established the cause of the collapse before we started repairs.

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“This has been an extremely stressful time for the residents and it would be wonderful if they can be safely back in their homes for Christmas.”

Ben Bagshawe was evacuated on the night along with his heavily pregnant wife, and their baby boy was born a week later.

They have been renting a flat for the past year with the cost covered by his insurance.

“It’s been frustrating but not the end of the world,” he said.

Rosemary and Derek Broom, the residents closest to the hole who have been able to remain in their house, said they feel the road is now “the safest place to live in the country”.

“The roads, the fields, the children’s play area, everything has been so well surveyed we don’t feel at all worried,” Mrs Broom said.

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