A Sheffield councillor fears the authority may not be able to do anything to stop the city's former Coroner's Court from being consigned to rubble.
Coun Douglas Johnson, who represents the city ward, said he had asked officers for details of what could be done to object the proposals for the Metropolitan Support Trust Old Coroner's Court Business Centre, on Nursery Street, near Wicker.
Developer Firestone Developments has submitted a demolition notice for the building, which stated that it hoped to start work as soon as August 13.
Coun Johnson said: "It is a demolition notice that has gone in and it's slightly different to a normal application and I haven't yet been briefed about what the powers are for objecting or whether permission is just given to the developer.
"It's a big concern if the authority can't prevent something like this from destroying part of our city's history."
The notice, which was submitted to Sheffield Council planning bosses on July 18, stated that an apartment block would be built on the site in place of the court building, which would be subject to a separate planning application.
Coun Johnson said: "The developers want the ground cleared to ground level so that they can build flats. I imagine it would be like many blocks of flats in that area and from a developers' point of view it's easier to knock buildings down and start from scratch.
"The court was built in 1913 and it was at a time when there was a need for developing specialist accommodation for coroners."
Despite Firestone Developments hoping to start work as soon as August 13, the deadline for the council to make a decision is August 20.
Coun Johnson said: "The issue is what can be done to protect the building because I think what the really important thing is that it is an attractive building in a place where there aren't many left.
"It's obviously a growing area where they are developing on that side of the river but what I would expect to see is something being built behind it because it has a nice design with an attractive frontage."