AN HISTORIC garden been described as "extremely unsafe" after a sinkhole doubled in size.

The mysterious hole in Old Steine Gardens is now five feet deep after heavy rain saw the cavity grow - just days after being discovered.

Fencing around the hole was also discovered to have been removed, sparking further safety fears. However, The Argus visited the site today and found the fencing had been replaced.

It comes as people living in the area complained that Brighton Christmas Festival has turned the gardens into a "muddy quagmire".

In an email to Brighton and Hove City Council, Gary Farmer, founder of the Old Steine Community Association, said: "The hole is now over 1.5 metres deep.

"It has deteriorated following heavy and persistent rain.

The Argus: The sinkhole doubled in size The sinkhole doubled in size

"The area is extremely unsafe and the fencing has already been moved overnight by persons unknown.

Mr Farmer wants the council to reconsider using the gardens for winter events, claiming the area "is not suitable for such heavy machinery and heavy footfall".

More than 131,000 people visited the festival's Christmas market alone and was named one of the best in the UK.

It is set to return for the next two years - but councillors have suggested the event be moved to Maderia Drive.

Conservative tourism spokesman councillor Dee Simson: "The council needs to listen to local residents in the area who have had five torrid weeks of thumping music disrupting their sleep.

“Concerns about the noise raised by the local Old Steine Community Association during the Festival were not heeded by the council, leaving residents frustrated.

“Now, to make matters worse, the historic gardens that run through the Valley Gardens precinct have been left in a dreadful state and will take a massive amount of repair work if they are to recover for the summer.

The Argus: Old Steine Gardens was turned into a 'muddy quagmire' Old Steine Gardens was turned into a 'muddy quagmire'

“It is such a shame to see these historic parks in an even worse state than they were during the summer after other events and the council has a lot to answer for."

Councillors approved organisers E3 Events to run the Christmas market for three years back in March last year.

Festival bosses said they are "happy to learn lessons" from the event's debut year and are open to "engage in positive conversations" regarding a change in location.

David Hill, CEO of E3 Events, said: "We are happy to work with the council - and indeed the wider community - to make the Brighton Christmas Festival 2022 the huge success I am sure it will be.

"We faced a series of challenges in 2021, which we managed to overcome, but I have already said we are happy to learn lessons, having listened to various groups and individuals."