A HAMPSHIRE village is set to gain a new convenience store - and a post office to replace the one which closed last year.

Richard Dance and his wife Karen, who run the Welcome chain, have taken over the former Sainsbury's Local shop at Brookley Road, Brockenhurst.

The new store will open next Wednesday - with an in-store post office set to follow in the summer.

The couple, who run similar shops in Marchwood and Ashurst, are planning to offer a wide range of products and a raft of environmentally-friendly initiatives, including alternatives to plastic packaging.

They will also install an outside tap where pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists can refill water bottles.

Karen said: "Despite the challenges of coronavirus we are determined to still open on the March 25 to support and provide food to our local community.

"We are a family-owned family business which has traded for over 30 years and pride ourselves on serving best range of fresh food, groceries and local products."

The couple's plans have been welcomed by Brockenhurst Parish Council’s deputy chairman, Cllr Michael Harris, who is also New Forest District Council's cabinet member for business.

Cllr Harris described the arrival of Welcome, which is opening in partnership with Southern Co-op, as "very good news" for the village.

The previous post office closed last August when the postmistress, Elizabeth Kernaghan, stepped down from the role.

The closure coincided with the news that Sainsbury's Local and CJs bakery were also shutting. Sainsbury's said its decision was based "on a range of factors" while CJs owners, Susan Czajkauski and Cheryl Hughes, were reported to have refused to sign a new lease on the shop.

Several villagers have taken to social media to voice their delight at the opening of Welcome.

One person posted: "That's wonderful news for our village. I am hoping they might stock some vegan products. I have to shop online or go to Waitrose at the moment."

Another social media user added: "Welcome to Brockenhurst! You have the support of the village and (we) look forward to the grand opening."