A SOUTHAMPTON pub which closed after a mass brawl could be set to reopen as a shop.

The Dorchester Arms has been shut for almost a year after licensing chiefs closed it down following a catalogue of trouble at the watering hole.

And now plans have been filed to end its days as a pub and turn it into a shop, while space above would become flats.

Question marks were first raised over the management of the Onslow Road pub after a 20-person brawl broke out after a row about who should buy the next drink.

Police criticised the landlord, Ray Bird, for failing to break up the fight, which saw pool cues and bar stools wielded as weapons.

Bar staff had called police as the violence escalated while a number of windows were smashed causing hundreds of pounds of damage. Four taxi drivers later admitted charges of affray.

Other issues included residents complaining about music and door staff not having the correct licences at the Enterprise Inns-owned pub.

Hampshire police also claimed that Mr Bird had lied to officers when they tried to contact a member of his staff.

Last year the council’s licensing committee decided to ban Mr Bird from running the premises and to revoke its premises licence.

The last pints were pulled at the venue last August and it has been closed ever since, with Enterprise Inns eventually selling its freehold.

Proposals to add an extension to the building and carry out alterations have now been filed by the building’s new owner, Mr P Harding, with a decision due by August 20.

His plans would see the ground floor converted into a shop, while its first and second floors would contain two two-bed and one one-bed flats.

The Daily Echo was unable to contact Mr Harding for comment about his plans for the building.

Julian Long, co-chairman of the South Hampshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “My reaction is one of disappointment. This is yet another pub closing and nationally we’re getting an average of 29 pubs a week that are closing.

“It is sad and disappointing that yet another pub has closed. We are losing these centres of the community at an alarming rate.”

In recent years The Castle in Midanbury, the Anchor and Hope in Freemantle, The Bulls Eye in Sholing and The Woodman in Lordswood have all shut their doors and been converted into convenience stores.

Regulars at The Bittern are still awaiting the fate of plans by McDonald’s to turn their beloved pub into a fast-food takeaway, with a planning inspector set to rule later this year.