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House collapse fear as garden begins to slide

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 15, 2014

  • Sue Hawley-Smith at her home in Field View, Woodville

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A COUPLE fear their house could be in danger of collapse after losing a metre of their garden.

Sue and Emma Hawley-Smith have been told they will have to find up to £20,000 to reinforce the edge of their property, in Woodville, which is teetering precariously over a former railway line.

Their nightmare began at Christmas when fence panels started to sink, with part of the garden eventually dropping by five feet.

The pair are seeking advice from their insurance company, though a payout appears to be unlikely as no damage has been caused to the house itself.

Investigations at the property, in Field View, have suggested measures to prevent erosion were not implemented when the house was built six years ago and that it was ‘inevitable’ that the land would eventually give way.

To make matters worse, the company which built the house has since gone into liquidation, leaving Sue and Emma in limbo.

Sue Hawley-Smith said: “We have lost about a metre of land. It is now only about three metres from the house.

“It was always going to happen, but obviously we didn’t know that - we are not land experts.

“At present the fence is starting to give way and at this rate it won’t be long before the house will be threatened with collapse. Its the sort of thing you expect to see in a movie or in a recent storm on the coastline, but definitely not on a housing estate in Swadlincote.”

The couple said they are currently ‘stuck’, with raising the funds to pay for emergency work seemingly an impossible task, while any thoughts of moving appear to be unlikely with the house in its current state.

Mrs Hawley-Smith said: “The insurance company has said it will reach the house, it will continue to go. We’re a bit stuck, we can’t come up with the funds. We’re still trying to get advice from the insurance company but it seems no-one is taking responsibility for the land.”

She said the ordeal has left her fearful of going to sleep because she ‘doesn’t know what she is going to wake up to’.

She added: “It’s frightening. We don’t know how far it is going to come up and if the right side of our house is going to go.”

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