A pensioner got a shock when a concrete slab he was standing on caved in underneath him to reveal a hole at least five foot deep.
The collapsed drain at a Hyde Group house in Taylor’s Field, Midhurst, is suspected to be linked to an underground stream, although the district council says it is ‘unclear’ whether the erosion is linked to South Pond.
David Berry, 73, said his leg was badly grazed when he walked backwards to find the ground disappear from under him on Tuesday last week.
“It was a paving stone that collapsed underneath me, it went down and I went down with it.
“I was walking backwards and it grazed my leg badly, but if I’d been walking forwards it probably would’ve broken my leg.”
He said he was ‘up and about’, albeit with a swollen ankle, but the incident had shaken him.
“When it happens, it’s frightening at the time, very frightening, but you have to get up and sort yourself out,” he said.
Neighbour Richard Kinner, who lives in the house with the hole, said he suspected drainage issues at South Pond had contributed to the water that had eroded the soil.
He said: “They blocked off the natural flow of the stream. They’ve made it so it flows one way instead of both ways, so when it rains, and we’ve got a stream coming down the back of our house as well, it backs up and it’s got nowhere to go.”
He added that there appeared to be three channels leading out from the hole underground towards his shed and the house, which may need to be underpinned.
He said: “They’re going to have to block off both our doors and the concrete slab and dig it up.”
The Hyde Group confirmed that workers had gone out to the property to investigate, but said they would have to await a specialist report before deciding the nature of the repair work.
Chichester District Council said: “We are unsure at this stage whether the collapsed drain is connected to South Pond.
“Hyde is planning to put some special cameras down the drain so it can investigate further, but we won’t know the outcome for a while.”