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Crater appears in sinkhole hotspot Barming, near Maidstone, in Copper Beech Close


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Neighbours are living in fear a huge crater which has emerged outside their homes could collapse at any moment, swallowing up a car or even a child.

The dip in Copper Beech Close, Barming, has grown so big some parents say they won’t let youngsters play in the street and cars have been damaged driving over it, with one lorry having its number plate shorn off.

A crater developing in Copper Beech Close, Barming, Maidstone
A crater developing in Copper Beech Close, Barming, Maidstone

Bellway has installed a sign warning of “uneven ground” and says it is undertaking further investigations into the matter.

Gateway Property Management, the property managers on behalf of Bellway, say it has done "a full survey" on "the sinkage".

But furious residents are calling for urgent action before someone is hurt.

Gary Shiells, who lives on the road, is concerned the crater, around 10ft wide and 7in deep, is reaching a dangerous size, adding: “I don’t really want to see one of my neighbours driving over it and it suddenly collapsing under the weight of the car.”

Tim Kimber, 31, who has lived on the estate since it was built in 2017, says he fears it giving way while children are playing nearby, while Maidstone Hospital nurse Myunever Tasimova won’t let her two, aged 10 and six, anywhere near it.

“When it rains it looks like a pond,” she said, adding that in the last few days it has sunk even further.

A warning sign has now been put down, telling people of the uneven surface
A warning sign has now been put down, telling people of the uneven surface

Residents say they have constantly been asking Gateway Property Management to do something about the dip since it began to emerge in October. They have recently been told repairs are being arranged, but do not know when.

Mum-of-one Kate Aston, 38, said: “How long is that going to take? It’s just going to get worse and worse.

“My question is what happens when it goes and people are not going to be able to get to work?

“Who is going to pay for our loss of earnings?”

It is not clear what has caused the crater to form.

A Bellway spokesman said: "Construction work was completed on the development in 2017 and, subsequently, handed over to the management company in 2018.

"A warning sign has been put in place at the site off Copper Beech Close and further investigation into the matter is currently taking place."

A Gateway Property Management spokesman said: "I can confirm we are aware of the sinkage and have had a full survey done on the issues, which has been passed to Bellway Homes.

"We have updated residents, advising of our course of action, and Bellway are now dealing with the matter."

Nearby, the Hermitage Lane area has been plagued by sinkholes in recent times, leading MPs Helen Grant and Tracey Crouch to call for an immediate halt to further housebuilding last September.

Last September sinkholes appeared close to water storage tanks off Hermitage Lane. In October, another appeared at the Bovis Homes Orchard Fields development, followed by a void in Angelica Square in November and another off Hermitage Lane in December.

The latest was in April, when a sinkhole opened up outside the newly-built assessment centre at Maidstone Hospital.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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