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Restaurant might have to close because of Sheringham sinkhole

PUBLISHED: 17:37 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:37 10 June 2019

Terry Butler, owner of Crofters Restaurant, has had to close due to the sinkhole which opened up in the High Street of Sheringham. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Terry Butler, owner of Crofters Restaurant, has had to close due to the sinkhole which opened up in the High Street of Sheringham. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

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A Norfolk restaurant owner said he might have to close his business of 32 years, due to the Sheringham sinkhole.

Businesses are counting the cost in lost trade in Sheringham High Street, due to a sinkhole closing the road to traffic. Pictures: David BaleBusinesses are counting the cost in lost trade in Sheringham High Street, due to a sinkhole closing the road to traffic. Pictures: David Bale

A Norfolk restaurant owner said he might have to close his business of 32 years, due to the Sheringham sinkhole and been told it could take up to 13 weeks to fix.

Crofters restaurant in Sheringham High Street has been closed since the sinkhole appeared more than two weeks ago.

Its owner Terry Butler said that diners cannot get to his business because the road is closed and the pathways alongside the sinkhole are also shut.

Work to repair the sinkhole has not yet started, but a spokesman for Anglian Water said work should start later this week.

Engineers working on the sinkhole in Sheringham High Street.
Picture: KAREN BETHELLEngineers working on the sinkhole in Sheringham High Street. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Mr Butler told BBC Radio Norfolk: "I've been told that it could take between eight and 13 weeks to repair the sinkhole.

"I cannot keep going for 13 weeks, paying the rent, etc. At the moment we are looking at closure, because we cannot do anything about it.

"If they opened the pathways, at least people could get to us, and we could get business, even if the road remains closed.

"No-one has admitted liability for the sinkhole, which means that my insurers won't pay me a penny at the moment."

Engineers working on the sinkhole in Sheringham High Street.
Picture: KAREN BETHELLEngineers working on the sinkhole in Sheringham High Street. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Joanna Mitchell, the owner of All Natural Co in the High Street, said: "The loss adjustor from Anglian Water told us we need to contact our insurance company, and that it was nothing to do with them. If they have not had the surveys back, how can they say it's not their fault?

"On that Saturday, before the sinkhole appeared, an unusual patch of water appeared at the spot, which was obviously coming up from under the ground, but Anglian Water denies that puddle of water was there.

"We are open now but we are very quiet. We are losing money and trade and footfall."

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Representatives from Anglian Water and Sheringham Town Council met at the sinkhole on Monday, June 10.

Deputy mayor Liz Withington said: "It has been hugely taxing for businesses, but the town as a whole is coping well. On Sunday we had our classic car day, and the town was really busy.

"At the end of the day, nobody knows what the cause of the sinkhole is and until that is ascertained, we can't say who or what is responsible - it could even be a fresh water stream.

"Sadly, two businesses are still closed - (the other closed business is Straits fish and chip shop).

Businesses are counting the cost in lost trade in Sheringham High Street, due to a sinkhole closing the road to traffic. Pictures: David BaleBusinesses are counting the cost in lost trade in Sheringham High Street, due to a sinkhole closing the road to traffic. Pictures: David Bale

"We cannot support them financially, as that is not within our remit."

Anglian Water's press officer Nicola Harvey said: "In terms of the sinkhole we don't know what caused it. Our assets under the ground are damaged. At the moment we are still investigating the situation.

"Our guys have been there since this happened. A lot of design work needs to take place. We should have a design in place by the beginning of this week, so our guys can get into the hole. It's such a large void."

Sheringham mayor Madeleine Ashcroft said she sympathised with frustrated business owners, but was confident Anglian Water engineers were doing everything to repair the sinkhole as soon as possible.

The two businesses, Straits and Crofters, which have been forced to close due to the sinkhole on Sheringham's High Street. Picture: Ella WilkinsonThe two businesses, Straits and Crofters, which have been forced to close due to the sinkhole on Sheringham's High Street. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The town's Chamber of Trade is also putting up new signs along Holway Road and Weybourne Road, and on the roundabout leading to the town centre.

Mrs Ashcroft added: "Anglian Water has been absolutely sterling. They were there as soon as it happened and they have since put everything in to sorting it out with as little inconvenience as possible.

"As a town council, we have been making sure that everybody has the facts every day and my feeling is that we should be thankful that nobody has been seriously hurt as this could have had quite different consequences."

The sinkhole, which is believed to be 6.5 metres deep and up to 20 metres wide underground, opened up in the middle of the road at around 1pm on Saturday, May 25.

Mary Stocks and Joanna Mitchell, co-owners of All Natural Co, one of the businesses affected by the sinkhole. Picture: Ella WilkinsonMary Stocks and Joanna Mitchell, co-owners of All Natural Co, one of the businesses affected by the sinkhole. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

No-one was injured and the area was quickly evacuated. Firefighters checked for gas, but found none, and the highways department later carried out a further assessment.

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