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Probe into cracks in Norwich homes

PUBLISHED: 12:07 31 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:17 02 July 2010

Cracks in houses on Plumstead Road, Norwich.

Cracks in houses on Plumstead Road, Norwich.

Kim Briscoe

An investigation has been launched after large cracks suddenly started appearing in a group of houses in Norwich.

An investigation has been launched after large cracks suddenly started appearing in a group of houses in Norwich.

Several of the homes in Plumstead Road have been shored up with scaffolding after massive cracks in the walls appeared in just a few days.

Linda Sinclair was on holiday in Spain when her daughter Sophie rang her to tell her that cracks had appeared in their neighbour's home towards the end of February.

Mrs Sinclair, 56, who works at the Lansdowne Hotel in Thorpe Road, lives in a semi-detached house and has had some cracks appear in an upstairs bedroom.

She said: “It just literally happened overnight.

“Some of the houses are only really staying where they are because they have all the supports up.

“Nobody is really telling us anything at the moment. I have had my tears as I've been here a lot of years.

“It's devastating really. You work so hard to pay for your house, then you finally finish paying only for it to start collapsing.”

Margaret and Peter Thorne have lived in their bungalow for nine years and although their home appears to be unscathed so far, the retired couple's shed has some cracks and they have been warned not to park on their drive.

Mrs Thorne, 66, said she first noticed something was wrong when she spotted a thin crack in their neighbour's house and the garden gate would not shut properly.

Within days the crack next door had widened considerably to several inches and she could see into the house.

She said: “We had all the surveys done when we moved in and there was nothing wrong as far as we knew.

“It could be down to mining subsidence but we just don't know.”

Norwich is renowned for its subsidence problems due to a proliferation of chalk mines and tunnels.

Most memorably an Eastern Counties' red bus fell into chalk workings in Earlham Road in 1988.

It is not yet known if the chalk mines and tunnels have contributed to the cracks in the six houses in Plumstead Road, some of which have been evacuated, or if there is another reason entirely.

Part of a driveway at a home on the opposite side of the road has also sunk slightly, but Norwich City Council said today it was not aware of any issues with the road itself.

A spokeswoman said: “If people do have concerns, we would ask them to let us know so we can look into any potential problems.”

Several insurers, loss adjustors and a contractor are all working towards finding out the cause of cracks and if it is covered under the owners' home insurance policies.

At this early stage in the investigations none of the organisations said they would be able to comment.

t Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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