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Road closure between Queen's Road and Hambleden Court remains after huge sinkhole opens up on the A26 Tonbridge Road


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A main road in Maidstone will remain closed for up to six days because of a huge sinkhole which appeared yesterday.

The carriageway collapsed along the A26 Tonbridge Road and is off limits between Queens Road and Cherry Orchard Way.

Watch: A South East Water manager speak at the scene of the sinkhole

The hole measures about 5m by 6m and is located just 500m from where a huge void appeared in 2018, leading to frustration from residents.

Yesterday, teams from South East Water were carrying out investigations and some people living nearby were left without tap-water.

Around 50 properties were impacted by the initial burst however that number was reduced to nine by 2.30pm yesterday.

Water was fully restored to everyone by 7pm.

KCC (Kent County Council) Highways tweeted that the road will be closed to traffic between Queen's Road and Hambledon Court for at least six days.The council confirmed today there are no changes to this plan.

No workers were spotted at the site when this photo was taken on Saturday morning. Picture: Dean Cheeseman
No workers were spotted at the site when this photo was taken on Saturday morning. Picture: Dean Cheeseman

A diversion is in place between Hermitage Lane and London Road and vice versa.

A huge sinkhole has opened in Tonbridge Road, less than 500m away from where a void opened in 2018 outside the Taj Barming Restaurant Picture: Sean McPolin
A huge sinkhole has opened in Tonbridge Road, less than 500m away from where a void opened in 2018 outside the Taj Barming Restaurant Picture: Sean McPolin

Bus company Nu-Venture, has warned of delays to two its 88 and 78 services. Bus 88 operates via Queens Road, between Maidstone West and Barming. Bus 78 operates via Queens Road, with heavy traffic expected on that route due to the diversion in place.

The trust which runs Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals has also shared the closure notice to patients and staff on Twitter.

Maidstone Hospital is incredibly close to the site of the sinkhole, with its entrance about a mile away when driving.

Support worker Dean Cheeseman, whose works in Maidstone, was annoyed not to see any workers at the site when he drove past today.

The 42-year-old said: "I use the Tonbridge Road to get to my clients to administer their medication, meals and care. Seeing the road closed this morning and no workmen there trying to fix it and get the road back open frustrated me.

A sinkhole opened up along Tonbridge Road, near the junction with Cherry Orchard Way in Maidstone. Picture: Dean Cheeseman
A sinkhole opened up along Tonbridge Road, near the junction with Cherry Orchard Way in Maidstone. Picture: Dean Cheeseman
A huge sinkhole has opened in Tonbridge Road, less than 500m away from where a void opened in 2018 outside the Taj Barming Restaurant Picture: Sean McPolin
A huge sinkhole has opened in Tonbridge Road, less than 500m away from where a void opened in 2018 outside the Taj Barming Restaurant Picture: Sean McPolin

"Having to take a detour takes time out of my day when I have timed calls and clients relying on me."

Andy Beston, operations manager for South East Water said the company was made aware people in Barming had no water at around 5am yesterday.

Technicians found a burst on a on a 4in diameter water main at the junction of Cherry Orchard Way and Tonbridge Road (A26).

Giving an update today, Steve Benton, head of operations west at South East Water, said: “The road closure will remain in place over the coming days until we are able to safely repair the road surface.

“Due to a number of other utilities underground, we are waiting for confirmation that other companies’ apparatus are safe before we can proceed with the repair.

Police closed Tonbridge Road, Barming between Cherry Orchard Way and Queen's Road after another sinkhole appeared in the carriageway. Picture: Sean McPolin
Police closed Tonbridge Road, Barming between Cherry Orchard Way and Queen's Road after another sinkhole appeared in the carriageway. Picture: Sean McPolin

“We’re really sorry for the disruption caused but hope everyone understands the safety of the public and our workforce is our number one priority.

“Although we cannot give an exact date of when the road will be opened again, we hope repairs will begin early next week.

One resident said the road closure would cause "absolute mayhem" and the owner of a local fish and chips shop said his takings were down by 50% thanks a reduction in footfall.

The void is less than 500m from where another chasm opened on the road in 2018, closing it for around five months.

The sinkhole appeared outside the Taj Barming restaurant forcing 10 homes to be evacuated. Workers spent more than 8,000 hours fixing it as part of a £1m repair project.

In 2018, a sink opened up on the A26 Tonbridge Road, outside the Taj Barming restaurant at the junction of the A26 and Fountain Lane Picture: Andy Payton
In 2018, a sink opened up on the A26 Tonbridge Road, outside the Taj Barming restaurant at the junction of the A26 and Fountain Lane Picture: Andy Payton

The latest sink-hole is certain to add further doubt as to whether Barming is the correct place to be building more homes.

Hermitage Lane, which stretches from Barming to Aylesford, has seen developments totalling thousands of homes approved in recent years, with more in the pipeline.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent's roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here or by following our live blog.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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