The future of a historical boathouse built by the doctor who discovered Down’s syndrome could be secured by English Heritage.

The Velma Boathouse sits on the west bank of the River Thames between Teddington Lock and Kingston Bridge and was built during the arts and crafts movement in 1884.

The unique two-floor Victorian boathouse was built by Doctor Langdon-Down, who lived in Broom Close, Teddington, and first discovered and developed treatments for Down’s syndrome.

English Heritage will decide if the boathouse should be added to the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, after plans to develop the site drove campaigners to action.

Developer Property Maintenance and Consultancy Limited showed the community its initial plans, which propose turning the boathouse site into a sustainable five-bedroom riverside home.

The developers plan to move the boathouse back in the site to create the new home but campaigners feared it could be demolished.

Campaigner Anumita Sharma said: “The boathouse forms an integral part of the Teddington and Hampton Wick river environmental, sporting and social history, one of only five or six remaining Victorian boathouses on this stretch of the Thames.”

Campaigners said as well as risking the loss of the boathouse the planned development was too large, would change the river frontage and the proposed entertainment area would be noisy for neighbouring residents.

The boathouse is wood-lined with engraved panels, a vaulted ceiling, carved beams, stained glass windows and has doors opening on to the surrounding deck.

The developer has yet to apply for planning permission and did not respond when this paper went to press but plans presented to the community said the impact of the development would be minimal.

It said: “The majority of the site remains undeveloped, with a priority given to maintaining the existing richness of biodiversity on the bank. There will be ample parking provision on site.

“All materials will be bought to the site by river and wherever possible local contractors will be employed in the construction phase.”