A terrace of five Victorian houses is to be demolished on Thursday in the North Yorkshire port of Whitby after a landslip of saturated ground threatened its foundations. Engineers will gingerly build a temporary road to get heavy plant to the 150-year-old homes which were built for workers involved in mining jet, the rare black mineral used for fashionable 19th-century jewellery.Scarborough council said leaving the houses standing could cause a domino-effect down the steep slope above the picturesque harbour where the explorer Captain James Cook lodged and learned his seafaring skills.Several of the properties are let as holiday cottages, including one belonging to former resident Alan Tomlinson, who said: “It’s heartbreaking to see it just like this.” Residents have previously been involved in negotiations with Yorkshire Water over alleged draining deficiencies in the area.The week of the floods have caused serious damage to more than 1,200 homes throughout the UK. A small risk of flooding remains in the lower reaches of several slow-moving, major rivers where water from upstream will not finish moving down to estuaries until late on Thursday. There were still 141 flood warnings and 145 of the lower-level flood alerts in place on Wednesday afternoon.A major clearup continues in the Welsh city of St Asaph where an elderly woman was found dead in her flooded house – the fourth death in the past week’s flooding – and more than 500 properties were damaged when a wall of water spilled from the broken banks of the river Elwy.Drier and colder weather has established a hold over most of the country, with only scattered showers. Gritters were out in many parts as temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing. Forecasters are also predicting the colder spell will stay for the rest of the week. With widespread standing water on the roads, the likelihood of ice forming is high.Meanwhile, the Commons environment committee has written to Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, to ask what progress he has made on getting insurance companies to agree to a new rules for covering high-risk properties after 2013.