Iconic Sydenham gas holders that have survived two world wars could be consigned to history, after Lewisham Council said it couldn’t stop their demolition.

Southern Gas Networks (SGN) said the Bell Green site is no longer sustainable and serves no use after being tasked to dismantle its gas holder network by 2029.

Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan said he recognised the "historic and cultural significance" of the site, but said his power was limited.

A council statement read: "Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, wrote to Southern Gas Networks (SGN) to make it clear he did not want to see the gas holders demolished as any part of the development on the site.

"We are unable to prevent the demolition of the gas holders as they are not statutorily listed or within a conservation area."

The Mayor of Lewisham added: "The gas holders at Bell Green have significant historic and cultural significance for Sydenham.

"They are locally listed and I have been urging Southern Gas Networks to reconsider their plans.

"The Government should give councils more powers to stop demolition of buildings that have been locally listed."

However, chairwoman of Sydenham Society, Annabel McLaren, is not giving up the fight.

She said: "We want to work with the council and SGN to come up with an alternative.

"It is extremely important to the history of Sydenham and Catford. So many have worked there since the 19th century, and its significance is tremendous."

Annabel said she would like to see the "congested" Lower Sydenham station moved there, or for a housing development to be worked on, where elements of the gas works are retained.

These views were echoed by Sydenham councillor Alan Hall.

He told News Shopper a strategic decision needs to be made and said the Bakerloo line extension into the area should be considered.

He added: "This is a prime site in Lewisham. We could have a good development, which locals approve of rather than being against it.

"This gas holder survived bombings in the wars, and it still being further assaulted."

An application was submitted in 2017 to build a supermarket on the site, which was refused.

However, in July last of year, plans to demolish the site were approved.

Despite the planned demolition, SGN said it is in discussion to keep a "small part of the gas holders".

A spokesman added: "We understand that to many people these iconic structures act as a visual reminder of an area’s history.

"We are continuing discussions with the local authorities around the potential to retain a small part of the gas holders, where practical, for use by a future developer of the site."

The lattice steel frames of the two gas holders were built in the late 1800s, and tower at 38 metres high and 54 metres in diameter.

They haven’t been used since the 1990s and were formally decommissioned in 2012 following changes in the way gas is stored.