The future redevelopment of Battersea Power Station could hinge on the fate of a little known pumping station on the site's eastern perimeter.
The Grade II-listed station has come to the attention of the Victorian Society, which describes it as a "hidden industrial gem" that should be preserved. The society argues that, as probably the oldest surviving water pumping station in England after Kew, the building should be re-purposed within the hugely contentious, multi-billion pound Battersea scheme.
Developer Treasury Holdings take a contrary view. "[A building] of very little architectural merit" that is in "very poor condition", is how managing director Robert Tincknell views it. His firm argues that retaining the station would imperil the entire project, which is already having trouble getting past City Hall's requirements for the London Plan.
Both arguments have merit. The Victorian Society are right to chastise Treasury Holdings for assuming that, beyond Giles Gilbert Scott's power station itself, the 20-hectare site is a tabula rasa on which they can exercise free reign; but the developer is entitled to feel baffled that a previously overlooked, near-derelict building, unused for some decades, is being defended so vigorously.
Both parties claim that the law is on their side, so this one could rumble on and on. Good news for bookies, if not for anybody else.