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Cracks survey holds up improvements

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The delay in the results of the hydrogeological survey could have a knock-on effect for Victoria Park projects

SEVERAL projects which will shape the future of Victoria Park in Newbury may be delayed due to hold ups with a survey commissioned by the town council to uncover the cause of cracks and subsidence affecting the area.

Surveyors Scott Wilson began a hydrogeological survey in September 2010, after mysterious cracks and subsidence plagued walls, paths, houses and playing fields across Victoria Park throughout the summer.

Estimated to last around four weeks, the council coughed up £5,165 to pay for the survey, but five months later, and with an extra £3,000 on the bill, no-one is any the wiser as to what has caused the damage.

Now it has emerged that attempts to improve the area with a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid could be scuppered if the town council has no clear idea how to fix the problems by the time the first HLF deadline of February 28 comes around.

A proposed MUGA pitch, much-needed repairs to the pathways, the Victoria Park bandstand, moving of the Queen Victoria statues, and other projects could all be put on hold with the removal of a vital source of funding.

The services manager for Newbury Town Council, Granville Taylor, said yesterday (Wednesday) that should the report be inconclusive, or prove that the affected ground could still be subject to movement, no repair could be carried out and any bid for funding would almost certainly fail.

He added that the size of the data submitted by Parkway contractors Costain, who have been pumping groundwater from the land near to the affected areas to construct an underground car park at the multi-million pound development site, had accounted for some of the delay.

“Scott Wilson have indicated they will look to have something back to us by the end of the month, and then we will go through the report ourselves and make a decision on what to do next. We are just waiting for the report to come back to us, we can't really do anything until then,” he said.

Undertaking its own investigation into the cause of the problems, Mr Taylor said the town council had expanded it's own investigation to include probing of the area into bore holes across the park.

This would test how much the water table under the ground is moving, following Costain's claim that it was shutting down the pipes which are pumping ground water from the area into the Kennet and Avon canal.

In December, the council said that early estimates for repairs to the Park Way wall alone came in at around £100,000.

According to sources near to the council, the total repair bill for the damage could run into six figures.

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