Part of a historic Victorian pump house could be demolished after multimillion-pound plans to redevelop it hit a snag.

Plans for the extension and restoration of the British Engineerium in The Droveway, Hove, were approved by Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee in August.

But the proposal to include an underground exhibition area beneath a light well in the building’s machine room is causing problems due to water leaks and damp in the walls.

Revised plans to demolish a small section of the listed Victorian landmark have now been submitted to the local authority.

The application states: “The incorporation of the machine shop with the light well structure above is proving to be a problem.

“As the adjoining level of the proposed underground exhibition area is to be 1.1m below, the existing walls will need to be underpinned or rebuilt.”

A letter sent to the council by engineers from the Hove-based Hemsley Orrell Partnership added it is likely that the walls, some of which are hidden behind timber panelling, are in such a poor condition that the entire structure needs to be rebuilt.

Structural problem

It adds that demolishing and rebuilding it with high quality materials is the “best option available to retain the structure”.

The buildings were built between 1865 and 1876 and originally provided water to Brighton and Hove via giant steam pumps.

The collection closed in 1952 but reopened again in the 1970s when it was transformed into a museum and exhibition hall.

Property developer and businessman Mike Holland, who bought it in 2006, is behind the plans to bring the site back into use.

Developers claim the whole scheme is “sympathetic” and is designed to “improve the facilities of the museum to place it on a more financially viable footing to secure the long-term preservation of the site”.

Comments are currently being accepted on the plans.

The local authority expects to make a decision on the applications, one of which is for listed building consent for the work, by early February.

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