A POPULAR pub in the Eastleigh borough is set to re-open this autumn and it will have a new look.

Plans to extend the Lapstone Pub, in Horton Heath and create a coffee shop and an Italian style restaurant at the back of the property have been approved.

As previously reported, the 150-year-old pub had been the subject of a community battle as it was successfully listed as an asset of community value with Eastleigh Borough Council – the first pub to be given this status in the borough.

This gave the local community six months to raise funds to purchase the pub or for rivals to come in and guarantee its future.

It was the Chandler’s Ford-based drink suppliers Thirstee Business that purchased the property and is now planning to revamp it.

Company owner Russ Kitching said: "We didn't just want to re-open the doors, we wanted to make it work as a property. It needed a proper investment and we decided to turn the pub into a hub."

Mr Kitching said the drinking area will remain the same and will have a traditional English look while the new part will have an Italian influence with a coffee shop, a wood-fired oven to cook pizza and an area to make gelato.

"It will be more family friendly and we'll make it more useable for the community, so if residents, companies, charities want to get together they can use the new part," Mr Kitching said.

According to the proposal, the interior will be updated and natural finishes such as stone and oak floors will be provided.

The existing historic fabric will also be retained and enhanced, wherever possible while a new entrance to the manager's flat above the pub will be created.

"The idea is to offer something different while keeping the traditional English look," Mr Kitching said.

And added: "A lot of work was neglected for many years but we got the planning now and we just have to make it happen."