The future of the planned East London line was in jeopardy this week as culture secretary Tessa Jowell considered listing railway arches at the Bishopgate Goods Yard.
With a decision due as the AJ went to press, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) warned that, without a station at Bishopsgate, the project could be scrapped - including the extra stations at Hoxton, Haggerston, Dalston and Queen's Road, Peckham.
The controversy follows a recommendation from English Heritage that the arches should be protected. EH believes the 1839 Braithwaite Viaduct is a 'benchmark' for railway architecture and a 'substantial and important heritage asset'. Prince Charles' architectural foundation is among the organisations pushing for a reprieve for the yard, which is scheduled for demolition later this year.
Jon Bootland, the foundation's director of regeneration and policy, said the move was designed to play for time while it explored an alternative approach to the site: 'The last thing we would want is for the East London line not to go ahead. But why not reuse the existing structure?'
The row looks set to escalate, with rumours circulating that the lord mayor of London has met with the Prince to criticise him for intervening.
Meanwhile, the current tenant at the arches, events organiser Bill Bailey, has said he will be seeking a judicial review of the decision to evict him.He claimed the SRA was acting prematurely by demolishing the goods yard - before it had put in place the funding needed to build the East London line.
The SRA has said it is determined that the stations will be of the highest architectural quality.