CONSTRUCTION OF London Underground's East London Line extension could be delayed by up to 18 months after a viaduct next to the route was awarded a Grade II listing, business groups warned this week.
Most of the work on the extension from Whitechapel to Dalston will be put on hold because it is likely that London Underground Ltd (LUL) will have to apply for listed building consent to demolish a series of arches.
The arches abut the mid 19th century Braithwaite viaduct at Bishopsgate Goodsyard, near Liverpool Street.
The Department of Culture Media & Sport announced the listing last Friday, but as NCE went to press, it was unclear whether listed building consent was needed. If it is, LUL will have to apply to Tower Hamlets Borough Council for permission, which could threaten the 2006 deadline for opening the extension.
Business lobby group London First warned that gaining listed building consent could take up to 18 months, because English Heritage would have to be consulted.
English Heritage had earlier called for the whole Bishopsgate Goodsyard site to be given ancient monument status.
'Looking at the past record of English Heritage, this will not be a quick business, ' said London First transport director Irving Yass. 'If English Heritage is not happy, it can refuse to allow the listed building consent to go ahead.'
He pointed to the case where consultation with English Heritage delayed waterproofing of Brunel's East London Line tunnel under the Thames by 18 months and added £40M to the cost.
A Tower Hamlets spokeswoman said that the listed building consent process usually takes eight weeks if 'all is well'.
But English Heritage refused to comment on whether the consent would go through unchallenged.