Benugo co-founder's basement dig floods sewer with concrete: Hackney road still blocked off after five weeks
PUBLISHED: 07:41 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:24 12 May 2016
An entire Victoria Park road has been blocked off for nearly six weeks after a sewer was accidentally filled with concrete during a basement excavation backed by the co-founder of the Benugo food chain.
Contractors working to turn the former Penshurst Arms Pub into flats struck a main sewer pipe with their borers, and when they poured in the concrete for the pile on April 2 it blocked up the drainage system for the whole area.
Thames Water has already had to excavate a massive section of Penshurst Road and replace 20 metres of sewage pipe.
Costs are escalating and it is still unclear how far along the pipes the concrete travelled.
Hugo Warner, who founded Benugo in Clerkenwell in 1998 with his brother Ben and is one of 10 property developers listed under Penshurst Arms Limited, said: “It has obviously been a massive setback for both us and our neighbours.
“The sewer in question was an unmarked and unregistered pipe 4.5m down which actually had no connection to our site – it just ran into it.
“Thames Water has confirmed that we could not have known it was there – sadly one of the many risks of digging basements in London.
He continued: “Our neighbours have been as understanding as we could have expected under the circumstances and in addition to the water board work we will make good the three houses that have been affected.
“The only positive thing is that part of Penshurst Road now has a brand new sewer system – the one that runs under my house blocks twice a year and I have to get Thames Water out each time to clear it.”
"The sewer in question was an unmarked and unregistered pipe 4.5m down which actually had no connection to our site, it just ran into it. Thames Water have confirmed that we could not have known it was there - sadly one of the many risks of digging basements in London."
The bid to build a block of six flats with two eco-homes in the garden was mired in controversy two years ago when Hackney Council granted change of use planning permission.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) argued the 149-year old pub should have been protected according to council policy that seeks to protect public houses.
A spokesman for Thames Water said: “In terms of costs, in these situations we will look to recover our costs from the third party.”
She continued: “Third parties putting concrete in our sewers is a common and frustrating problem for us and our customers. The concrete sets hard and blocks the pipes meaning they have to be dug out and replaced with new ones.
“This can often take a long time and cause traffic disruption. In this case, to avoid sewage flooding properties and the environment, we’re also using tankers to suck up the waste water that would normally flow through the blocked pipe.”