The Russians may not have not got as far as Tolworth during the Cold War, but a new block of luxury flats called Red Square is raising temperatures.

The historic site, where the Red Lion pub sat for decades after it was built in 1906, is being converted into housing and office space by CNM Estates and Linden Homes. It will open this summer.

Residents have expressed bemusement at the naming decision which apes the famous Moscow landmark – or the budget vodka brand.

John McCarthy, vice chairman of the Friends of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service, has written to Linden Homes to press for a change to the plans, concerned that residents have not been consulted.

In his letter he said: “It is difficult to understand the necessity of changing the name of the site, even more so as the name you have chosen would appear to most inappropriate for a Royal Borough with no Communist or Russian connections that we know of."

He said: “We were quite surprised. The new Red Lion was built in 1906 replacing an earlier public house that had been there more than 200 years.

"What we find difficult is to understand why the name “Lion” has been dropped.

“It’s an historic association and there’s precious little history of this nature in Tolworth, and we feel from the Friends that this should be kept."

They should have called it Red Lion Square, he added.

Steve Bangs, managing director of Linden Homes, later told Mr McCarthy that no offence was meant by the choice of name, which was only for marketing purposes.

The Friends will be able to lobby Kingston Council on the postal address, he wrote.