Plans to blitz a Second World War air raid shelter and replace it with flats have led to calls for the historic site to be protected, not destroyed.

Developers want to convert the shelter in the central courtyard area of St Leonard's Court, on St Leonard's Road, East Sheen, into two self contained apartments and have lodged an application with Richmond upon Thames Council.

But their proposal has been met with disapproval from residents and councillors who think it is unsuitable.

Councillor Virginia Morris, East Sheen ward councillor, told said that all three ward councillors are 100 per cent behind those opposing the plans.

She said that the two flats would not fit below ground.

"It will change the character of the road, you will have two flats in the way of the facia of St Leonard's Court.

"The bunker is the only one left in East Sheen and 65 years on it is an important piece of history for East Sheen and the children. It is in quite good nick, you can clean it up and people could go down there and see how people lived during the war. It is an original bunker and wouldn't take a lot to fix it up. Regardless of the bunker it is an improper development."

The St Leonard's Court Residents' Association has submitted their objections to the council, who have received around 90 letters, mostly with similar objections.

Anne Reeves, chairman of the association, said: "It's just not a suitable site, it is a green area at the moment and it is surrounded by 60 flats that would look down onto it.

"It is not in keeping with the 1930s buildings."

Mike Smith, chairman of Barnes and Mortlake Local History Society, was surprised the shelter was still there and was adamant it should not be removed.

A Richmond upon Thames Council spokesman said: "All representations will be taken fully into account before any final decision is reached."