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Otford Chalk Pit closed by Sevenoaks District Council over concerns of sinkholes and cavities posing ‘danger to life’

People have been warned not to enter the site of a former chalk pit as underground cavities throughout the site pose a “danger to life.”

Sevenoaks District Council has closed the old mining site in Otford after independent surveyors found some of the gullies under the surface had been filled with water and were getting dangerously close to the surface.

Chalk Pit in Otford Sevenoaks closed for safety reasons. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council
Chalk Pit in Otford Sevenoaks closed for safety reasons. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council

Further investigations will be carried out but until a decision is made, the entire site including the entrance in Pilgrims Way East is closed until further notice.

There are believed to be underground streams running throughout the site which can cause subsidence.

In recent years, sinkholes have appeared and in September 2023 they were subsequently filled in but as more appeared, the site was partially closed as a precaution.

Now, members of the public are being warned not to enter for their own safety.

As a precautionary measure, a survey of the area around the scout hut is also being undertaken.

Cllr Irene Roy. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council
Cllr Irene Roy. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council

The public right of way between Tudor Drive and Station Road, around the edge of the Chalk Pit, currently remains open.

Cllr Irene Roy, cabinet member with responsibility for cleaner and greener, says: “The historic site has had a great deal of subsidence over the years, but we now have evidence of deep underground voids, which could be filled with water. Many are near the surface and could give way at any time, putting life in danger.

“Our focus is to carry out further investigations as soon as possible and to consider the future of this much-cherished area by the local community.

“As previously confirmed, I would like to reassure residents that there are no plans to develop the Chalk Pit, which remains a designated open green space in the District Council’s 2040 Local Plan.

“As soon as we have an update, we will let our communities know. But in the meantime, for everyone’s safety, I must urge the public to stay away from the site.”

The former mining pit has an extensive industrial history having been dug out for chalk during the Victorian period and then used as a landfill site.

For many years, the site has been used as a public open space and was managed by Otford Parish Council until 2021 however it ended its long-term lease due to the mounting health, safety, and maintenance costs from both sinkholes and a type of tree disease.

Sevenoaks District Council took back responsibility for the site.

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