Ripon families left stranded and frightened as 66ft sinkhole appears in their gardens

The sinkhole at a home on Magdalen's Road in Ripon - credit Ben Bramley
The sinkhole at a home on Magdalen's Road in Ripon - credit Ben Bramley
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Evacuated residents on Magdalen's Road believe it will be "months rather than weeks" before they can return home after a giant sinkhole appeared last night.

The 66ft sinkhole appeared in two gardens at around 10.30pm before fire crews evacuated seven houses on the road later that night.

Aerial shot of the affected homes - credit Kurnia Aerial Photo

Aerial shot of the affected homes - credit Kurnia Aerial Photo

A further six houses were evacuated later this afternoon as a result of the sinkhole with a sewer at the rear of the properties collapsing.

Ben Bramley and his family were one of the houses to be evacuated and said their priority is now finding somewhere suitable to live.

He said: "My partner came tearing into the front room and said there was something going on outside but I was shocked when I saw the size of the sink hole.

"Two fire engines came in around 20 minutes and found that tarmac had moved on the road outside and there were cracks there as well.

"There are six houses that have been evacuated and four of us were then told to evacuate our property and find somewhere new to stay.

"It was really frightening. Everything in our back garden, the bench, the table and all our artifacts have just disappeared into this giant hole."

Ripon is prone to sinkhole activity with this incident close to where another sinkhole opened up beneath a 100-year-old building in Magdalen's Close in 2014.

The house was later demolished but Mr Bramley has been told that there are no cracks in his property.

He said: "The problem is the size of the sink hole. Four of us have been told we can't return to our homes and it'll be weeks rather than months before we can.

"It's all very upsetting but I'm glad we did not see last night what we've seen this morning. You can see how deep the hole is and how close it is to the back door."

Mr Bramley said he and his partner Adele Richardson and 17-year-old son Joshua were staying at his mother and father's home until they can find new accomodation.

Three of the evacuated residents spent the night at the rest centre at Ripon Fires Station which was opened by the Major Incident Response Team.

The cause of the sinkhole is still to be confirmed but Harrogate Borough Council are hoping to bring in specialist engineers to assess the situation.

A council spokesperson said: "The council’s Chief Building Control Officer has been out on site to ensure that the property and those surrounding it were of no danger to the public.

"The immediate danger to the public has been removed and the situation is now under control.

"The property owners have been advised to contact their building insurers as soon as possible and to find alternative accommodation while further investigations are carried out by the insurers of the property."

Sinkholes are relatively common in Ripon and are usually caused by the dissolution of thick gypsum deposits beneath the area.

After the 2014 partial house collapse, the British Geological Survey said gypsum under the town had dissolved to form a maze-like cave system.

It said in a report that sinkholes appeared in Ripon every two or three years in the 1980s and 1990s but there had not been any reported in the seven years before the 2014 event.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that there were no injuries as a result of the sinkhole but remained at the scene this morning.

A spokesperson said: “Two fire crews and an officer from Ripon attended a sinkhole that had appeared at the rear of two properties.

“There were no injuries but seven properties were evacuated. The hole measured approx 20m (66ft) by 10m (33ft) with an unknown depth.

“We are re-attending the incident this morning with several other agencies who attended during the night.”

Despite reports of cracks being seen on the road, North Yorkshire County Council said the landslip had left no impact on the highway.

Yorkshire Water are now investigating the sewer at the rear of the homes affected with cracks found in an unadopted alley to the rear which has been fenced off.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police also assisted with the evacuation and remain at the scene to ensure the safety of those involved.