Urgent closure of Flask Walk in Hampstead after gaping chasm opens under tarmac

Cllr Chris Knight at the site of the leak in Flask Walk

Cllr Chris Knight at the site of the leak in Flask Walk - Credit: Archant

A Hampstead street was urgently closed to traffic today after a burst water main created a gaping void under the tarmac – sparking calls for the area’s ageing Victorian pipes to be replaced.

Thames Water does not yet know how large the chasm is

Thames Water does not yet know how large the chasm is - Credit: Archant

Flask Walk was shut off this morning when the utility company’s engineers discovered the chasm, which may have made the road unstable, while they were investigating a burst pipe.

Thames Water said it is likely the gap was caused by the leaking four-inch pipe, which would have shifted earth under the road.

The Hampstead NW3 Business Association immediately issued calls for Thames Water to take action, saying a spate of leaks have been blighting the village in recent weeks and months.

The resulting road closures are causing “gridlock” and having a negative impact on traders, the group said.

Its members are urging Thames Water to replace Hampstead’s Victorian underground pipes – a job which is not pencilled in to take place until 2019.

The association’s chairman Andrew Lavery, senior partner of Lavery Haynes solicitors in Heath Street, said: “The road closures are causing tremendous problems.

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“They are creating gridlock in Hampstead Village, which has a profound effect upon the traders, not just the residents. If people can’t get to the shops, they’re not going to shop here.”

Thames Water does not yet know how large the void in Flask Walk is, but it said the road could remain closed for up to four weeks while repairs are carried out.

The works follow recent road or lane closures in Rosslyn Hill and Well Walk, while parking was recently suspended in West Heath Road after a sewer collapsed.

Mr Lavery added: “We are asking them to bring forward the update of the Victorian piping and we are not going to give up on this.”

Cllr Chris Knight, who represents Hampstead Town ward on Camden Council, said: “These street closures are putting huge pressure on all the other roads around here.

“But what really worries is me is where all the water is going from these leaks and what it is doing.

“Thames Water are flatly refusing to replace the pipes, which is disgusting.”

A spokesman for Thames Water said: “Engineers investigating a leaking water main have discovered a large void under the road.

“Flask Walk has been closed for safety while we carry out our repairs.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”