A water scheme has come under fire by residents who claim underground tunnelling damaged their homes.
The Yorkshire Water scheme in Bridlington has been criticised by guest house owner Tony Greene, 68, who claims the work damaged his property, prevented he and his wife from retiring and even drove him to depression.
Mr Greene has run White Lodge guest house on Neptune Street for the past 15 years with his wife Caitlyn, 60. They say they are now owed compensation. Mr Greene said: “I was going to sleep thinking about Yorkshire Water. I was constantly being reminded of the damage they have caused when walking around the property and wondering why nobody was listening to the things I had to say.
Yorkshire Water undertook the £40m project in 2013 which involved the forming an underground tunnel from beneath Palace car park through to South Beach promenade, so the area’s water quality could be improved and the overflowing of sewage into the North Sea could be prevented
Before work began Yorkshire Water promised a survey of all properties within the perimeter of the work ahead of construction.
However the survey of Mr Greene’s property never took place and it was not until October 2013 when a building surveyor recommended Tony to the organisation after the work had bypassed their property.
An internal survey was carried out in November and claimed it was carried out “prior to the commencement of tunnelling works in the vicinity.”
Repairs to the property addressed a vertical crack in staircase wall, cracks in first and second floor landing walls, cracks in second floor landing ceiling, cracks to corner of boundary wall, repair external gable wall and cracks to main lobby extension wall.
Tony said: “I was really behind the work being done until we began to notice there was a number of cracks in the walls.”
Following continued complaints from Mr Greene, Peter Associates, working on behalf of Yorkshire Water, completed a further visual inspection and concluded: “the recent movement and cracking damage that has affected the property is most likely to be due to ground settlements as a result of the Bridlington rBWD tunnel construction which passed beneath Neptune Street.”
Building firm F Norman and Sons visited the property in December 2014 to look at the issues and gave the couple £8,137.21 in compensation to cover the repairs.
The letter also stated “Any issues found will be covered separately to ensure the matters above can be dealt with as quickly as possible.”
Work was said to take place at the owner’s convenience but Tony was told by Norman and Sons that work could not begin until the summer season.
Tony said: “We couldn’t have scaffolding and work inside the building with our guests here so we had to postpone the work, otherwise we would have got the work sorted before the season. So we have not touched any of the money from the settlement as more problems have arisen since then.”
The couple were due to sell their home in July 2013. But their plans to retire were put on hold because their property had become too difficult to sell.
JBA Consulting claim their work: “allows a record to be made of the condition of the building before works commence.
In their latest survey of the property on 19 January this year, the firm said the property was: “beyond the predicted zone of influence of the tunnelling works.”
Tony, who has been on antidepressants due to the stress of the situation, said:“I just wish they had surveyed the property before the works commenced so then there would be no argument from Yorkshire Water. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the property until the work started in the area in October.
“They have accepted some blame and have given me some compensation but there are other aspects such as the arch, driveway and decorating work that need to be done.”
The survey’s conclusion, despite JBA having not carried out an inspection prior to the work, states: “We have no visual record of the building and any cracking before the tunnel passed, therefore it is not possible to make a direct comparison with the cracking highlighted during this inspection.”
Bridlington resident Adrian Trower, of West Street, has also take up issue with Yorkshire Water.
His property was also on the market before work commenced and since the tunnelling started, which ran directly below his property, his home has become ‘uninsurable’.
Adrian said: “I am angry that Yorkshire Water have not kept to their promise to look after me and to compensate for any damages caused. It has been a living hell that’s for sure. My partner has left me and I don’t know when this is going to end. I am at the point where I have had enough and it could be that I hire a solicitor.
A survey was done before work started under his property but Adrian claims, despite a number of surveys being done after work completion, he has yet to receive an offer from Yorkshire Water.
The company said a boring machine excavated about 8,000 tonnes of material on the tunnel route. Something Adrian claims he could hear happen.
He said: “One day I woke up to all my doors dropping so I couldn’t even get out of my bedroom.”
Adrian was hoping to sell his property but the works have left it uninsurable meaning it is difficult to sell/
Now Tony and Adrian are appealing for others who have been affected by Yorkshire Water to join them in the hope of creating a collective voice. You can contact Tony on 01262 670903.
A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “Prior to the storm water tunnelling project began as a precautionary measure we carried out around 200 free and independent home surveys.
“We also carried out around 30 surveys upon completion of the tunnelling works, and where it has been identified the works caused household damage, we have reached an appropriate settlement with customers on a case-by-case basis.
“There are now only a small handful of ongoing cases which will soon be finalised.”