A POPULAR pub in a Hampshire town has closed - and looks set to stay shut for several months.

The Players in Water Lane, Totton, is owned by the Wellington Pub Company, which is hoping to lease the long-established business to a new tenant.

But the legal process involved means the watering hole is unlikely to reopen for at least four months.

The mock Tudor building was constructed in the 1930s to serve the growing number of homes springing up in the Water Lane and Hammonds Green area.

Originally called the Coopers Arms it is thought to have been renamed in the 1970s.

Town and district councillor Di Brooks, who lives nearby, said: "The Players always seemed to be quite busy. They had things like children's parties and bungee jumps - it always seemed to be a happy pub.

"It's the only one around here and it would be a shame if it didn't re-open."

County councillor for Totton Chris Lagdon, who attended the monthly karaoke session, added: "It's what a local pub should be. It's a great pity it's closed but brilliant news that the owners are looking for a new tenant."

Fellow councillor David Harrison is also hoping that the premises will reopen.

He said: "The closure of a local pub like The Players represents a really worrying trend that's been happening nationally for some years.

"Pubs are more than just a place to drink alcohol. They're community hubs that allow people to meet up and enjoy a bit of social interaction.

"It's hard to quantify what this means in terms of quality of life, but if people have fewer chances to meet up it contributes to loneliness and isolation - and that has significant impacts on people's health."

The pub is being marketed by estate agents Savills UK, which has offices in Southampton.

A Savills spokesman said: "We're not selling the freehold but we are looking for a new tenant. Interest has been shown in the property and we're hoping to lease it shortly.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to stay as a pub."

Asked when The Players was likely to reopen he cited the legal process involved and added: "It's probably going to take between four and six months.

"I imagine the new people will want to be in by the summer."