Subsidence and Sinkholes - the bare facts!

Barker Son & Isherwood LLP


Phone 01264 353411


When buying a property, how much time do you give to thinking about subsidence and sinkholes? Probably not much, if any at all but there does seem to be more reports of holes opening up. A hole opened up in London last year, where there is little known mining in that area, so how can you find whether there is a chance of sinkholes or subsidence near the property you’re buying?

Firstly, subsidence and sinkholes are more likely to happen in and around areas where mining has taken place but as shown in the example above in London, they can even happen in places where mining was not prolific. Your solicitor or conveyancer should suggest incorporating subsidence and mining reports into all the other searches they will complete on your behalf in the process of you buying your property.

Subsidence and sinkholes are different which is why two types of search reports should be undertaken. Subsidence is movement in the ground a property is built on and usually happens on clay soil or where mining has taken place previously. A sinkhole normally happens because of water erosion to certain types of rock. There are two types of sinkholes – cover-subsidence, which happens gradually and cover-collapse, which suddenly occurs.

There are areas in the UK which are more prone to sinkholes because of the geological make up of them. The British Geological Society (BGS) has identified the following areas as having karst landscapes, which means they are made up of carboniferous limestone. They are:

  • The Mendip Hills
  • The Peak District
  • Yorkshire Dales
  • Northern Pennines
  • Around the Lake District
  • North of the South Wales coalfield

There are also similar features to karst landscapes in the south east England, central, east and north east England. With tin and china clay mining also in Cornwall, Dorset and Devon, this can also be an issue.

Your only real protection is to make sure that you have the right searches for your particular area and even though more in depth searches will cost more, it could help you to make the right decision when it comes to buying your new property for the right price. 

If you are concerned about subsidence and sinkholes, talk to your solicitor or conveyancer and ask them what you can do to be as sure as you can that these issues will not affect the property you are buying.

For conveyancing help and advice on mining and land stability searches, contact Jane Derbyshire  who will be happy to assist you with your query, on 01264 325813, via email:  or via our free, no obligation online  enquiry form.

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