Big hole appears in Beccles town centre

STRUCTURAL work was under way yesterday after a large hole opened up underneath a building in Beccles.

The town centre was closed off after the hole, measuring about 12ft across, appeared overnight outside Pennington Opticians in Blyburgate.

The pavement had collapsed into the cellar of the building, leaving a gaping hole at the front of the shop.

The hole was reported to Suffolk police shortly before 5am yesterday and heavy rain has been suggested as a possible cause.

Police cordoned off the top of Blyburgate and diversions were put in place as structural engineers worked to make the building safe.

National Grid gas engineers also attended the scene as a gas main had been exposed by the collapse.

They disconnected the gas supply to the property as a precaution.

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Edward King, a building control surveyor from Waveney District Council, was at the scene along with builders from Sprake and Tyrrell who stabilised the building.

“Any dangerous structure is dealt with by our department as legally the government charges us with making them safe,” said Mr King.

“We have to make it safe to the point where we can hand it back to the owner and his insurers will get involved. I think the rain water has gone through the sandy subsoil and taken part of the bearing strata out. That has created a void and the void has collapsed.

“The gas main in there is exposed and has been bent, but it is still operational and is not leaking.”

He later said the building had been made safe but it was not known when the road would reopen.

Mr King said he had looked at the cellar in the Allied Healthcare Group building next door to the opticians and this appeared to be unaffected.

Richard Loades, who runs Beccles Car Shop, said: “I came into town this morning and saw the police here. I have never seen anything like this.”

The owner of the building could not be reached for comment last night.