The grandson of a conservationist who left Orleans Gardens to the council fears it will be destroyed if the Gloriana boathouse is given the green light.

Jem Panufnik’s great-grandmother, Nellie Ionides, bought Riverside House in 1928 along with the remnants of Orleans House, which was in the process of being demolished by gravel merchants intending to quarry beneath the house and the surrounding gardens.

When Ms Ionides died in 1962, her property in Twickenham was left to the council on the condition it should never be broken up or developed and should be enjoyed intact by the public.

Riverside House was later rented out to Mr Panufnik’s mother, with his family spending many hours in the playground and bicycling in Orleans Gardens.

Still living in Twickenham, Mr Panufnik, 45, takes his three-year-old son to the same playground he enjoyed as a child and hopes his four-month-old son will also be able to enjoy the same play equipment.

But a century after his family fought against the urbanisation of land at the riverside park, Mr Panufnik said his family was in the same situation, battling the same cause against a body “who think they know better” and “evidently have not witnessed the pleasure” the area gives to people of all ages.

Mr Panufnik said: “I lie awake at night fearing that this exceptional place may be destroyed forever by those who won’t understand or appreciate it.

“It is so special for what it is. People come from all over the country to see this fantastic corner of England. The most important thing is the opposition, not about the Gloriana – we would be very happy to have it in the borough – but what they are talking about is an enormous structure for the boathouse.

“It is thanks to my great-grandmother that it is the way it is now. She did everything she could in her life to make sure things like this didn’t happen.”

The consultation on Richmond Council’s proposals for the Gloriana boathouse ends on Sunday, August 31.

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