MYSTERY surrounds the cause of a 4ft-deep hole which opened up on a residential street in Rodbourne yesterday.

The 1ft-wide crater appeared on Linslade Street in the late morning, according to residents.

After noticing a group assembled around what they believed to be a sinkhole caused by the recent heavy rain, Robert Gosling, partner at Ron’s Stores on the street, alerted the council.

The council closed the road to traffic in the afternoon and placed barriers and cones around the hole.

Although unclear on how it appeared in the first place, Swindon Council said it has now established the 1ft-wide crater was not, as initially though, a sinkhole but a ‘plain old hole’.

Highways inspectors examined the road yesterday after which the hole was filled.

A council spokesman said he believed the road would reopen to traffic today but was unable to confirm a specific time.

“It is not a sinkhole,” he said. “They are a specific geological phenomenon, and despite the current media excitement around such things, it’s just a plain old hole in the road, albeit a slightly bigger one than usual.

“Our highways inspectors have been out to see it and it isn’t clear why it appeared, but we’ve seen similar things before.

“It’s being filled in at the moment and we hope to have the road open tomorrow.”

A sinkhole is defined as a natural depression in a land surface formed by the dissolution and collapse of a cavern roof. It generally occurs in limestone regions and is connected to subterranean passages.

But according to the local authority, the Linslade Street hole does not fit this description.

While residents were surprised to find the street closed and a large crater meters from their homes at the junction of Guppy Street and Linslade Street, businessman Mr Gosling said trading was affected by the road closure.

“As far as I am concerned business-wise, the afternoon was an utter waste of time,” he said.

“It’s the first time it has happened here. It’s quite dangerous.”

This is the second hole to have opened up in Swindon this month.

A 6ft-wide and 7ft-deep hole appeared near a cycle path, off Dart Avenue, in the Sevenfields Nature Reserve on February 10.