A MICRO-bar could open up in Andover after an application was lodged with the borough council to convert a vacant shop in Winchester Street.

Tim Abram, under a Beertaps Inns Limited business name, has submitted an application to Test Valley Borough Council asking to change the use of the shop to a drinking establishment, saying the venue will be catering for a different clientele than the current drinking venues attract, to “add to the vibrancy and community within Andover town centre”.

The building, which has a Grade II listed frontage, was previously occupied by a patisserie, which has been closed for some time.

The micro-bar would also act as a craft ale off licence, offering local cask and keg ales alongside gin, Prosecco and wine.

The application states: “The retail element will not entirely be lost as it is the intention to offer bottled real ales and craft beers for retail sales for consumption off the premises.”

Mr Abram, a brewer at Test Brewing Limited, based in Broughton, said the location was chosen “to enhance the visitors and footfall to this area of the town, becoming a ‘destination’ social point, and thereby improving the footfall for other retailers. There is significant benefit to be gained from micro pubs of this nature.”

John Buckley, pubs officer for North Hampshire Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was in support of the application. He said: “Andover remains lacking the vibrancy these bring to high streets.

“Such a small licensed unit would benefit the town.”

Councillor Phil North also commented in the application, saying: “Andover needs to maintain a modern and vibrant town centre. Perhaps one where there will inevitably be greater focus on the town centre as a social and leisure destination, as well as shopping.”

The application was somewhat critical of other drinking venues in the town centre, describing them as “noisy, largely with pre-recorded music, discouraging conversation, crowded and driven by their low-cost food sales or large volume sale of alcohol at low prices, thereby encouraging a heavier drinking culture.”

It pointed out most are owned by large pub companies or national chains, leaving small producers with little opportunity for regular retail sales of their beers on draft.

It added: “The proposed micro pub business is aimed at a market segment largely un-catered for, to add to the vibrancy and community within the Andover town centre.”

The size and layout of the premises would restrict the number of customers to 50 to 60, including staff, operating no more than 11am to 11pm, with alcohol sold for consumption on the premises between midday and 10.30pm.

The application states: “The intention is not to offer a noisy space but to encourage conversation and considered drinking, with quality ales being the focus. The food offering would be limited to snacks and cold smaller bites from local producers to accompany the drink.”

The applicant would invite community groups such as book clubs to use the venue for meetings and as a social gathering point, and said: “The business is to cater for those that do not want the sometimes-oppressive atmosphere in the other drinking establishments in the town centre and for those who want to talk and enjoy a responsible drink and snack with friend, encourage conversation, community atmosphere and for those looking for a pre-dinner venue to meet, enhancing the overall offering of the town centre.”

To comment on the planning application, go to view-applications.testvalley.gov.uk/online-applications and search for the reference code 19/00986/FULLN.