Plans to convert a World War II air raid shelter into underground housing have been foiled after neighbouring residents campaigned to have it preserved as a listed building.

The shelter, located underneath the front gardens at St Leonard’s Court, in Mortlake, officially received Grade II listed building status, scuppering developers' hopes of turning it into two underground homes.

Councillor Virginia Morris, Richmond Council’s cabinet member for environment and planning, expressed her delight.

She said: “I am delighted that the shelter has been saved after such a long fight.

“The residents and I always knew that it was important to preserve it for the next generation so that our children could see and try to understand this part of our history.”

The department for culture, media and sport’s approval of listed building status followed a Richmond Environment Trust bid to ensure the Second World War architecture was preserved for future generations.

Jenny Pearce, chairwoman of the Environment Trust, said it was looking forward to seeing what the future would hold for the building, which dates back to 1938.

She said: “The Environment Trust will be happy to work with the building’s owners, residents and the Local History Society, with the help of English Heritage, to find a low-key and practical solution for the future repair, care and management of the structure, providing safe and secure access for visitors [particularly school groups] and the reinstatement of its interior to its war-time condition.”

The shelter, accessed through a conical brick-built turret, consists of four compartments either side of central corridor, running from the entrance and divided into day and sleeping areas for men and women. It would have housed 48 people in the case of an emergency and remains virtually unchanged from how it was left after the war ended in the 1940s.

In the past there was an appeal by developers to convert the shelter into two underground homes but this was quashed. Thanks to sucessful campaigns by residents of St Leonard’s Court, led by Rebecca Mortimore, along with Mortlake with East Sheen Society, Barnes and Mortlake Local History Society, Coun Morris, the Environment Trust’s Paul Velluet and it’s new heritage status the underground structure looks set to be preserved for educational purposes.