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Holes have turned Herne Bay High Street into a ghost town

A number of holes which have suddenly appeared in Herne Bay High Street have left traders and shoppers with a major headache.

Frustrated business owners are counting the escalating cost of the emergency works – which could continue for up to three weeks.

According to several companies, the High Street has become more like a ghost town as shoppers have stayed away from its fenced-off areas near the bus station, affecting the road between Beach Street and Richmond Street.

The road has collapsed in Herne Bay High Street
The road has collapsed in Herne Bay High Street

The first hole appeared opposite the Happy Fryer restaurant and is believed to be at least three metres deep.

It is thought to be part of an old cellar network within a number of properties in the High Street. Another hole appeared days later.

Town centre councillor Joe Howes said: “This has caused chaos on the High Street and is creating more traffic within the town centre.

“I hope that Kent County Council is able to come up with a solution to the problem soon. This isn’t what Herne Bay needs with a number of big summer events coming up.”

Pauline Butler, owner of Rainbow Crafts in the High Street, says her store’s business has been significantly affected since the problem emerged last week.

“With the footpath closed, people just aren’t coming down here. I think there are some holes further up the road as well, so I would have expected that the road would have been closed.

A huge hole can be seen in the pavement
A huge hole can be seen in the pavement

“People aren’t able to stop outside our store now, and I got into the shop today at 9am just to see all the barriers that had been put up strewn across the middle of the road with the wind that we had here.”

Ozkan Mustafa, of the Happy Fryer, expressed his concern: “We saw the hole appear here and we knew that something was wrong, so we let the council know.

“This is very dangerous and is affecting our business. We were told that it could take three months to fix it and we are now speaking to other businesses to see if we can gain some compensation over this.”

His colleague,Tahsin Ogutlu, highlighted a potential link between their emergence and the early layout of the road, with history studies showing that during the 1840s the High Street had originally been supported by a series of arches.

This hole appears to be deep, as engineers work to repair the chasms
This hole appears to be deep, as engineers work to repair the chasms

Toby Howe, highways manager for east Kent, said: “Initial investigations show that there are a number of cellar-like structures that run under an area of the footpath and parts of the road.

“One of these structures failed last week and safety measures were put in place to protect the public.

“It will be necessary to carry out a more detailed inspection of these structures and a specialist team is being drafted in.

“Unfortunately, it will be necessary to close the road from Tuesday night to allow investigations to continue and any repair works to be carried out.

“This is not a sinkhole and we are visiting local residents and businesses to make them aware of work required.

“We know that the repairs will cause inconvenience and ask residents and businesses to bear with us.”

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