The future of one of the country's last remaining air raid shelters is looking decidedly bleak this week, as developers step up the pressure to put flats in its place.

Residents at St Leonard's Court, East Sheen, have been fighting to save the shelter - which still has many of the original fittings - for more than a year.

But a decision from English Heritage not to list it, coupled with Richmond Council's failure to make a decision on the planning application, has made their fight a tough one.

The decision on the application now rests with the Government planning inspector in Bristol.

Anne Reeves, chairman of the St Leonard's Court Residents' Association, said: "We are now cranking up the pressure quite a lot.

"For 15 months, the council did not make a decision.

"They probably do not want to be seen saying yes or no, but it would be better to rather than do nothing about it.

"This air raid shelter is something that is ideal for schools to look at and it's a marvellous timepiece."

Nicky Gill, of the Mortlake with East Sheen Society, said: "This is the only shelter left in the area where the interior arrangement is still in such excellent condition.

"Its demolition would mean the loss of a valuable potential educational resource for children.

"The society contends that an historic monument like this should only be destroyed if there is evidence of an overwhelming need to do so."

A spokesman for Richmond Council said: "The application was complicated by the need for investigations into the impact on nearby trees and the fact that English Heritage considered listing the structure.

"English Heritage chose not to list it, but it would have been inappropriate for the council to make a decision during this process.

"If a local planning authority does not issue a decision on an application within eight weeks of receiving it, the applicant can appeal to the planning inspector and that is what happened in this case."