A utility company will be forced to pay for repairs after a sinkhole opened up in the city centre.

Drivers are not able to go down Robert Street in Brighton amid fears the road could collapse.

The hole opened up in the street last week.

The Argus: The ground has opened up above the voidThe ground has opened up above the void (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Brighton and Hove City Council said it is due to a "poorly repaired utility trench" which has left a void below but it does not yet know who is responsible.

Councillor Trevor Muten, who chairs the council's transport and sustainability committee, said: "We have now fully assessed the sinkhole and it appears to be caused by a poorly repaired utility trench which has sunk over time and left a void below the surfacing of the road.

“We will find out who was responsible for the original work but to minimise impact on residents and businesses, we will complete any work needed to make the area safe and prevent future damage ourselves before billing those responsible.

The Argus: A man walks past the road closureA man walks past the road closure (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

“Once we have a timeline in place for the work we will let residents know. We understand closing the road will have caused some disruption and thank residents for their understanding.”

Crude graffiti has already been daubed around the hole. Red paint has been sprayed encircling the entrance reading "a*se".

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It's not the first sinkhole to open up in the city centre. One appeared last year under paving slabs outside Pret a Manger in East Street.

Utilities pipes could be seen metres below the ground and the pavement was cordoned off.

Devonshire Place in Kemp Town was closed for weeks in February following the discovery of a sinkhole.