10ft crater opens up on footpath at Persimmon homes estate – and woman falls in

Families have been left in a hole – literally – amid claims of shoddy workmanship at their Persimmon-built housing estate.

They are furious after a public footpath at the multi-million pound riverside development gave way in last week’s storms, leaving a crater 4ft deep and 10ft long.

It’s the latest in a series of alleged defects faced by buyers of Persimmon homes across the UK.

Persimmon, one of the UK’s biggest housebuilders, has been under fire for years over its “poor quality” homes – even as it awarded bumper bonuses to bosses.

Former chief executive Jeff Fairburn, 54, was ousted in December 2018 following a backlash over his £75million bonus that had been inflated by the Government’s Help to Buy loan scheme. His successor David Jenkinson, 51, was paid £25million in 2018.

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Carpet fitter Barry Nuckley, 54, and his wife Ruth, 49, say they’ve spent £20,000 of their own cash putting problems right at their £233,000 four bedroom home next to the River Dearne near Huddersfield, West Yorks.

Persimmon built the riverside footpath as part of landscaping work to protect nearby homes from flooding when they put up the Oxley Park estate in 2013.

Dad of one Barry says his worst fears were realised when a gaping hole appeared in the footpath as mud beneath it was swept away by storms Ciara and Dennis.  

He said: “A woman knocked on the door and say she’d fallen down a footpath next to the house. The next morning we could see the devastation. It had washed away the soil underneath the footpath and created a void.

“Had she fallen down completely, she would have been dead. There’s no way she’d have got out of the river because it was so high.”  

Neighbour Brian Cartwright, 70, says they had already alerted Persimmon to potential problems with the riverbank and it had promised to act.

The retired painter and decorator said: “Persimmon have known about the problems since we lived here. They’ve been negligent from the start.

“They promised to come and repair it and nothing happened. We don’t want to be clobbered with a bill for something we’are not responsible for.”

The row comes just days before Persimmon is due to announce it made more than £1billion in profits last year.  

Around half of its homes are sold through the Help to Buy scheme which has been criticised for boosting profits for builders while lifting house prices further out of reach for young buyers.

Latest government figures show more than £1.5billion of taxpayer-backed loans has been used to buy 34,000 Persimmon homes since the scheme was launched in 2013.

In December, an independent review of its operations commissioned by Persimmon criticised the firm for having a corporate culture that resulted in “poor workmanship” and “potentially unsafe” homes.

Persimmon says maintenance of the footpath has been handed over to a management company set up to run the estate.

A Persimmon spokesman said: “We are aware that a portion of the footpath adjacent to the River Dearne has collapsed.

“Oxley Park management company is responsible for the maintenance of this footpath; we visited the site with them today and are in touch with them to see if we can offer any short-term assistance.

“We are pleased to hear that they are urgently looking into a solution to fix and rebuild the footpath.”

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