Up to eight weeks of disruption feared as engineers investigate sinkhole
- Credit: Archant
The cavernous sinkhole that has opened up on Sheringham's High Street could take up to eight weeks to fix, businesses have been told.
Since it appeared in the road surface on Saturday afternoon the hole has been slowly expanding, as engineers investigate exactly how extensive the damage is underground.
Mrs Mitchell, owner of the All Natural Co shop, said she had been told the sinkhole would take "between two and seven to eight weeks" to fix.
She said: "The hole is getting bigger before our very eyes. It looks as if the surface of the road has melted."
Although the health food retailer had to close on Saturday afternoon, the shop, and almost every other business on the High Street, has re-opened.
Mrs Mitchell said their water supply was currently out, and, although they could continue trading using the back door if they were unable to carry on using the front entrance, the situation had affected the business "badly".
Crofters restaurant nearby has had to close all together. They were told they could rely on their back entrance alone because they needed a fire escape.
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The sinkhole is a couple of feet in diameter on the surface, but underground it's far larger, with one estimate putting it at 6.5 metres (21ft) deep and up to 20 metres (66ft) wide.
An Anglian Water spokeswoman said they "could not say" how long the repair works would take.
She said: "The road has now been closed by the local Highways Agency for the safety of the public and to allow a full structural assessment to take place, as our sewer pipe has also been damaged, and a water main has been exposed.
"Due to the location of the damage and the stability of the road surrounding the sinkhole, our teams are now planning how to access the pipes below the ground safely. Once this assessment is complete we will begin the repair to the damaged sewer.
"This is a difficult repair and the safety of our staff and local residents, businesses and visitors is paramount. We want to assure the local community that we are dealing with our part of this incident as a matter of priority."
Although the High Street is closed to all vehicles between Starlings (Chapman's Close) and Pungleperrys, pedestrians can still get past the works using the east side footpath.
Liz Withington, Sheringham's deputy mayor, said the town remained very much open for business, and praised the community for coming together to cope with the situation.