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Residents’ fury over huge ‘death trap’ crater in front of their new homes

PUBLISHED: 12:04 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:02 28 January 2018

Windmill Loke residents Kelly Hansford, Matthew Armitage, Fraser Howson and Robin Back are angry that housing developers have just left a giant crater that is to be a soak away for the housing estate.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Windmill Loke residents Kelly Hansford, Matthew Armitage, Fraser Howson and Robin Back are angry that housing developers have just left a giant crater that is to be a soak away for the housing estate. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Residents of a new estate in a Norfolk market town have branded a massive ’soakaway’ pit which they say was dug in front of their homes without notice a dangerous death trap.

Windmill Loke residents Kelly Hansford, Matthew Armitage, Fraser Howson and Robin Back are angry that housing developers have just left a giant crater that is to be a soak away for the housing estate.
Picture: Nick ButcherWindmill Loke residents Kelly Hansford, Matthew Armitage, Fraser Howson and Robin Back are angry that housing developers have just left a giant crater that is to be a soak away for the housing estate. Picture: Nick Butcher

At Windmill Loke, North Walsham, which is part of Hopkins Homes’ Mulburry Grove estate, the massive excavation appeared last July in the place of a grassed area with planted trees.

And although the developer has now agreed to repair the damage, residents say they had earlier been told the crater was there to stay.

Windmill Loke resident Kelly Hansford, 38, said she was frustrated with what had happened.

The mum-of-three said: “I think it’s disgusting. Children were always out on the grassed area because it was lovely, and it’s one of the reasons why we bought this house in the first place.

The giant crater that has been left by housing developers on Windmill Loke, North Walsham.
Picture: Nick ButcherThe giant crater that has been left by housing developers on Windmill Loke, North Walsham. Picture: Nick Butcher

“They didn’t tell us they were going to do it, it just happened overnight and it looks terrible. And then we phoned up and they said this is how it’s going to be.”

Resident Robin Back said he was concerned about the danger the hole posed - especially to children.

He said: “It’s a death trap. It wouldn’t take much for people playing around here to fall in.

Resident Matt Armitage said he was also concerned. He said: “It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.”

The giant crater that has been left by housing developers on Windmill Loke, North Walsham.
Picture: Nick ButcherThe giant crater that has been left by housing developers on Windmill Loke, North Walsham. Picture: Nick Butcher

And neighbour, Fraser Howson, said: “We feel like we’ve been devalued - apart from the fact we have to look at it.”

The residents said the developer initially laid plastic crates to a depth of about 30ft in the pit, which were then covered with membrane, levelled off with soil and planted over. The underground construction should have then soaked water away from the surface.

But a defect with the soakaway - apparently there was too much soil on top which was damaging the crates - led to workers digging the whole thing up in an effort to repair it last summer.

Mr Howson said: “We accept that it had to be redone, but we weren’t told it was going to happen. We think Hopkins Homes has let us down.”

The giant crater that has been left by housing developers on Windmill Loke, North Walsham.
Picture: Nick ButcherThe giant crater that has been left by housing developers on Windmill Loke, North Walsham. Picture: Nick Butcher

Simon Bryan, Hopkins Homes’ development director, said: “We apologise for any misunderstanding that has been caused to the local residents at North Walsham. Further work is planned to start very soon to fill the area and plant more trees, alleviating the concerns raised by the residents.”

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