A BUILDING has partially collapsed and properties evacuated after a sink hole opened up in a North Yorkshire street.

The sink hole, about 25ft in diameter and believed to be due to a gypsum fault, appeared at a porperty on Magdalens Close, Ripon, at about 5.40pm.

There were no people in the house at the time, but a dog was successfully rescued.

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Residents from two adjacent properties have been evacuated as a precaution.

A fire engine and a heavy rescue unit from Ripon are currently on the scene. Crews have cordoned off the area and are awaiting the arrival of specialist engineers.

The hole has appeared just days after a proposal to build 75 homes on nearby abandoned auction mart site was rejected by councillors due to subsidance fears.

Planners at Harrogate Borough Council had recommended the scheme by Ripon Property Developments be approved.

But the Mayor of Ripon, Councillor Mick Stanley, urged members to reject the plans because of the risk of gypsum subsidence causing ground instability.

He said: “My main concern is the stability. I urge you to throw out this application as there is insufficient evidence that development can be safe.

“Why has there been no development on the site for the past 300 years? Could it be that our ancestors knew it was unstable?

“I don’t think any development should take place on that site because it is unsafe for building. I don’t think any insurer is going to insure any of those houses built at that site.”

The British Geological Survey has said that Ripon is one of the most susceptible areas in the UK for sinkholes because of the gypsum deposits there.

It says large sinkholes have developed around Ripon, some of which have affected property and infrastructure. This is because gypsum is far more soluble than limestone, and thus dissolves more rapidly.