CONCERNS over damage to property surrounding the Regent Circus development have grown after a hole appeared in the ground close to Cross Street on Thursday.

The large hole fell through with a loud crack according to nearby residents, and the preservation of property in the surrounding area was up for discussion at a meeting with developers last night.

The meeting came after the congregation of Rehoboth Strict Baptist Chapel were forced to vacate their building after large cracks began to appear in the walls.

Contractors ISG are currently working with nearby residents and businesses to rectify any problems.

Martha Parry, chairman of Swindon Civic Voice, is uneasy about the problems that have already arisen.

“I do not like the look of the hole and I do not like standing there either,” she said. “I have been watching that alley through the whole period because I thought they were building too close to it.

“There is a peculiarity in the sediment layers in the ground there. There are two thin layers of a different kind of soil, which makes it quite unstable. That is one of the features of the hill, with a flat layer that underpins the rock. This particular layer is slippery mud. When the college was built there was subsidence and they had to put in pilings, which are still there to this day.

“They have put in some pilings themselves to stablise the area but it is on the other side. I am concerned and will be raising this with them, along with the problems with the college building.”

The congregation at Rehoboth Strict Baptist Chapel have been searching for new premises since they had to leave the 19th Century building last month, and help may have arrived with an offer from a nearby church. David Newman, of the Moravian Church, in Dixon Street, has offered them use of the church on Sundays.

“I have said they can have use of our space for the duration of their displacement, and they told me that may well run into next year,” he said. “They are strict baptists, and have never had any association with any other churches.

“It is a small congregation we have anyway, around 15 members every week. The church itself it fairly large, and it would probably seat 200 people. There is also a smaller hall with facilities which would suit a small group.”

The Adver was unable to reach Richard Cooke, deacon at the chapel, yesterday.

A meeting last night included contractors ISG, South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, and residents’ groups. Two representatives from Ashfield Land attended to answer questions.