HUGE cracks in the walls and ceiling of a block of flats built on an old clay pit have led to fears the building could collapse. 

Marshall House is a block of 12 flats on Colliers Way, Reading. Residents there are concerned the cracks could be a sign of subsidence. 

Subsidence happens when the ground underneath a building sinks and the soil beneath the foundations is unstable.

The block is built on the site of an old clay pit, an Ordnance Survey map from 1961 shows. The street is likely named after the brick work S & E Collier Ltd, which was based there from 1870 to 1966. 

One resident said she did not want to be named because of possible repercussions in how she would be treated by the housing association to whom she pays ground rent and maintenance costs.

She said: “We have three children who constantly worry the building is not safe. They’re nervous about it.”

She said her daughter, whose bed is underneath a large crack in the ceiling, asked her if the building is going to collapse, and why the family can’t move. The resident said they can’t move because nobody would buy a flat with huge cracks in the walls and ceilings.

In 2000, parts of homes in Field Road collapsed, when an abandoned chalk mine underneath collapsed. The resident is concerned a similar situation could happen again. 

However, the housing association Stonewater said the building is safe and they have fixed the cracks on the outside of the building, but still need to fix the inside. 

Richard Payze, an assistant director at Stonewater, said leaseholders must pay towards the repairs. He said: “We are unable to start the repair work …  without completing a legal consultation process with these leaseholders. 

“We are now entering the final consultation stage with them, after which we will be able to consult with all residents and programme the works which we envisage starting this autumn.” 

The resident said: “We might be liable for some of the costs to fix the structural problems of a building we do not own. This is on top of paying ground rent and maintenance costs every month.”