The shroud of scaffolding hiding a key relic of Kingston’s military past may finally be lifted if plans to convert it into housing are approved.

The Victorian gatehouse to Kingston Barracks in Kings Road, Canbury, contained the guard room, prison cells and a store of 21,120 weapons.

However, the Keep has been behind bars since a structural engineer found problems in August 2007.

Kingston police had hoped to use the building as a base for three safer neighbourhood teams, but pulled out over the estimated £80,000 repair bill.

Now Annington Property has submitted plans to convert the Grade II listed building into eight two-bedroom apartments, with eight parking spaces.

The plans would see a modern extension, built in the 1960s, demolished, but the rest of the listed building kept intact.

The applicants said a public consultation in August showed “general support” for its plans for the 1874 structure, including trees used as soft landscaping in front of the building.

However, the Kingston upon Thames Society raised concerns about the future of a commemorative plaque to servicemen.

It wrote: “It has become a custom to lay wreaths at the Keep on Remembrance Day so the centre area needs to be clearly part of the public domain, which would be a further reason for designing more appropriate iron dates, possibly as a memorial.”

Annington has now proposed placing a commemorative plaque highlighting the story of the site in a central location at the front of the building.

Writing in the heritage group’s newsletter after reviewing the planning application, George Rome Innes said: “I am delighted to report the main substance of our comments have been taken on board.

“On Remembrance Sunday a wreath of red poppies was hanging appropriately on the iron gates, once the entrance to East Surrey Barracks.”

The barrack buildings the Keep once guarded were replaced with housing in the 1970s.