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Ripon’s giant sinkholes present liability problem

picture of sinkhole

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Lachlan Leeming at 8:38am 8th January 2019. (Updated at 9:20am 8th January 2019)

Concerns over liability following Ripon's history of sinkholes

  • Harrogate Borough Council likely to source its own insurance following Ripon's sinkholes.
  • Liability for any sinkholes larger than five metres to be transfered to the council.
  • It follows discussions around the construction of the town's new pool.

Ripon’s history of giant sinkholes means Harrogate Borough Council will likely have to source its own insurance for the construction of the town’s new pool.

The architectural firm designing Ripon’s new six-lane pool, Pick Everard, only has professional liability insurance for sinkholes up to five metres in diameter – which is likely to be matched by construction company Willmott Dixon.

A new report stated that liability for any sinkholes larger than five metres would now be transferred to the council, given the Ripon area’s extensive history of ground collapses.

Ripon’s well-documented history of sinkholes has previously been identified by the British Geological Survey (BGS) as a symptom of Permian gypsum deposits underneath the town.

A Ripon Sainsbury’s supermarket had to be evacuated when a hole suddenly opened up near it in August 2018, while in 2016 seven homes on Magdalen Road had to be evacuated after a gaping 15m sinkhole appeared nearby.


Sink hole opened up behind a row of terraced houses on Magdalen's Road in November 2016

The new pool, to be built next to the current Ripon Leisure Centre, had been at the centre of a furious to-and-fro between community groups and Harrogate Borough Council for much of 2018.

The most notable of these community groups, Ripon Pool Action Group, originally rejected the proposed six-lane pool on the basis that it didn’t have a learner pool attached.

The group eventually accepted the six-lane proposal following concerns that the whole project may be scrapped due to continued objections over its design.

The new pool will include six 25-metre long lanes, new saunas, as well as a new football pitch adjacent to it.

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