MONTHS of traffic disruption could take place after a large sinkhole appeared in a pavement on a busy main road.

The hole is on a pedestrian crossing in Brow Gate, Baildon, and though from the road surface looks quite small, the area it extends to underground is much larger.

A Belisha Beacon at the side of the pedestrian crossing has fallen into the hole where the ground has given way beneath it.

Mark Scrimshaw, environmental warden with Baildon Town Council, said: “This sinkhole suddenly appeared at around 11am today. A pedestrian had walked past and everything was normal. When they walked back a few minutes later the hole had appeared. They immediately contacted Bradford Council highways.

“The hole doesn’t look very dramatic from the pavement, but underneath the space it has left is the size of a small room. No one knows yet what has caused it to happen. It may be erosion from an underground beck that runs near here from the moors.

“Because of this it is important that no one goes beyond the barriers for a closer look because more of the ground could give way. It is around three metres deep at the moment and no one knows yet what is underneath. These types of work can take a long time to complete, sometimes months, depending on what is involved,” he said.

A spokesman for Highways who was at the scene this afternoon said there was an added complication in that the subsidence had exposed a gas main.

“We have to wait until the gas engineers from Northern Gas Networks have assessed the damage and whether the gas pipes are safe before we can put proper barriers round,” he said.

He added: “Without being able to get into the sinkhole it’s difficult to say what has happened. We will be getting out old maps to see what buildings used to be in this spot to suggest this may be an old cellar which has collapsed and also where the services run, such as mains water pipes.

“There are electrical cables exposed and two gas pipes. One could possibly feed the buildings in the locality while the other may be a main supply to Bradford. It is all speculation at the moment but we are being cautious because the Council has a duty of care.

A spokesman for Bradford Council added: “This is a considerable hole and we are working across Council services and with affected utilities to assess the situation. It is too early at this stage to say how long it will take to repair.”