RESIDENTS believe they could soon be forced to leave their homes following the evacuation of two properties because of a sinkhole.

The sinkhole first appeared at Clervaux Terrace, in Fishburn, on January 21, in front of the row of terraced homes.

Homeowners believe the hole emerged because of mine shafts causing collapse and ground instability and said they faced a similar problem about 30 years ago.

The area has been cordoned off and signs have been put up warning residents to stay away from the area because of the sinkhole – which is affecting two homes at the moment.

Residents from the two properties were evacuated in January and it is believed they have been given temporary accommodation.

One of the homes most badly affected, is now being swallowed by the sinkhole, its window frames are uneven leaving the house exposed to the outside.

Bricks are starting to crumble on the lower part of the property and are being engulfed by the sinkhole.

Walls also appear to have gaps, cracks and separation.

In January, council officers put up fencing around the sinkhole and installed temporary traffic lights outside the affected properties.

Both are still in force and part of the pedestrian route is closed due to health and safety.

A nearby resident said: “Durham County Council has started work but it’s been two months. We think behind the houses is sinking now as well so I think we are all a bit worried. Over the past few months it’s definitely become considerably bigger. We just hope it doesn’t start to affect the other houses on that street or on our street.

“We haven’t been told much but know they publish updates online but some people may not be able to access that. We just feel like it should have been sorted by now.

"The traffic lights have been up for a couple of months as well so that's a nuisance."

In response, Mark Readman, Durham County Council’s highways services manager, said: “We are monitoring the stability of seven Clervaux Terrace on a regular basis and these checks have shown no further significant movement or change to the property. Initial works, carried out by insurers, will hopefully begin on the property in the forthcoming week.

“On Monday, we also started to work at the rear of two other properties to repair the back street and are continuing to make progress with that.

“We would like to reassure residents that their safety is our main priority and that we are working hard to repair the sinkhole outside of Clervaux Terrace. Keeping them informed is another key priority for us and we will continue to update residents directly of all work that is being undertaken by us and partner agencies. We have also set up a dedicated webpage,, which is regularly updated.”

In January, Northumbrian Water repaired a leak found near the hole and are supporting the council.