Garden drama prompts sewer checks


CHECKS of drains and sewers are to be carried out in Waltham Chase to find out whether homes are at risk of damage.

The move comes after Roy and Nancy Buckner’s garage, patio and most of their garden, were swallowed up by the ground, leaving a repair bill of £100,000.

The couple, of Forest Gardens, woke up to the scene of devastation in the early hours of February 8 after the lid of a septic tank hidden beneath their garden gave way.

Since then, 65-year-old Mr Buckner has embarked on a mammoth clean-up operation, rebuilt his garage and endured sickly smells.

Now his neighbours have been left wondering whether they will be next with no one knowing quite what lies beneath the ground.

About 60 residents of Forest Gardens and Forest Road turned out to a public meeting yesterday at Waltham Chase Methodist Church Hall to hear what was being done to sort out the problem.

Robert Heathcock, Winchester City Council‘s head of health and waste management, said finding out the history of the drainage system, installed in the early 60s, was like a huge detective job.

“We would ask you to go away and look at your deeds and have a look at your back garden and drains. If you have any suspicions or you are not sure, contact the council and we will come and take a look.

“We need to investigate where the tanks are, but I do not believe there are that many about.”

The council has already been in contact with one resident saying there is a strong possibility a similar sort of septic tank is under his garden.

Two other people in nearby Forest Close have come forward concerned about suspected tanks underneath their gardens.

It is believed that when the council built the houses in the late 50s and early 60s the main sewer was not in place, so developers installed a temporary one instead.

However, once the main sewer was in place, the temporary tank was not filled in properly and eventually collapsed causing tons of soil and raw sewage to fill the Buckner’s garden.

Southern Water is to use high pressure jets to flush the sewers and drains in order to get rid of any blockages.

After the meeting, retired builder Mr Buckner said: “I do not want another disaster to happen like mine.

“My insurance company paid up in the end but that might not always be the case.”

He added: “The stress has been horrendous.”

Residents trying to sell their homes said estate agents and prospective buyers had shown no interest because of Mr Buckner’s problems.

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